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Wednesday's papers: Poor police budgeting, rally partying, and a warm October

Finland's police are better funded than they were, but still say they need to cut staff.

Jyväskylä, MM-ralli 2018
Big crowds are expected at the Rally of Finland this weekend. Image: Tomi Hänninen
Yle News

Helsingin Sanomat has analysis of the police budget that aims to answer the burning question in budget debate week: why are police looking to cut staff when their funding has actually risen?

Police have seen their budget increase from 738 million euros in 2018 to a planned 808 million euros in 2022, but still say they need to reduce their headcount by between 200 and 250.

Finland currently has some 7,475 police officers, close to the government's target of 7,500. A reduction of more than 200 would put numbers back below the 7,279 officers employed in 2019 when this five-party coalition government entered office.

This puts the government in a tight spot, and on Tuesday ministers said in parliament that they would allocate extra money to the police if necessary in 2022.

But behind the scenes, government sources tell HS they wonder where all the money has gone. Expensive IT projects are one money pit, and a leaky budget is a problem, according to one retired officer who wrote a paper on the issue.

The government sources have also wondered at the public lobbying operation undertaken by the police, alongside private events where police figures have urged legislators to make more of a noise on their behalf.

HS points out that police have received extra money to raise police numbers but that seems to have gone on other expenditure, and it's therefore difficult for decision-makers to raise spending again.

Rally raving?

Jyväskylä paper Keskisuomalainen reports that this weekend's Rally of Finland, which is held in and around the Central Finland city, is expected to draw crowds of visitors at levels rivalling those seen before the Covid pandemic.

That's good news for the hoteliers and restaurateurs in the region, but it could also be a bit of a Covid risk.

KSML interviews Ilkka Käsmä, a doctor in the city who says Jyväskylä has seen an increase in Covid cases in recent weeks with many of those cases coming from restaurants and nightclubs.

He urges motorsports enthusiasts to think twice about the kind of booze-fuelled partying that has characterised previous editions of the event.

The paper interviews the manager of a karaoke bar in the city who admits it may be difficult to maintain safe distances from other customers as the rally crowds gather.

He did say that they would aim to disinfect the microphone between each karaoke singer, however.

Finland's health agency THL says that coronavirus is spread through aerosols in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, in addition to surface contact and droplet transmission.

Unusually warm

It's been a pleasant autumn so far, but the start of October will see some unseasonably warm weather, according to current forecasts.

Iltalehti says that temperatures could hit 15 degrees at the beginning of the month, describing those numbers as 'mediterranean'.

Finland saw the hottest June on record this year, and the summer as a whole was the warmest in 80 years.

Climate change is expected to bring warmer temperatures to the country, but also more unpredictable, wetter weather and dangerous flooding.

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