Crimes committed by young people or 'street gangs' have become a major problem in Finland, the nation's chief of police said.
Speaking during an interview on Yle TV1's breakfast show on Monday morning, Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen said that the rise in youth crime must be taken seriously and efforts made to break the cycle of violence.
"The statistics show quite strikingly that youth violence has increased dramatically," Kolehmainen said.
The programme for the government of PM Petteri Orpo's (NCP) right-wing coalition has proposed increasing the police's budget allocation by 8 percent next year, specifically to fight the rise in youth and gang crime.
Interior Minister Mari Rantanen (Finns) has even suggested Finland should lower the age of criminal responsibility, currently at 15 years of age.
Kolehmainen noted that while incidents of youth crime continue to increase in Finland, the phenomenon is constantly making headlines in neighbouring Sweden — especially with Swedish police investigating nine suspected gang-related deaths in September alone.
"My colleague in Sweden, [Swedish police commissioner] Anders Thornberg, is constantly warning me that 'you should take measures now in Finland to prevent the situation from becoming like in Sweden'," Kolehmainen said.
He further welcomed the additional budget allocation, but said that the issue is so serious that it is the responsibility of all of Finnish society to help tackle it.
"The police are doing their best and playing their part, but we need the whole of society to be involved," he said.
More beat on the street
Additional government funding should see the Finnish police force increase its numbers by about 500 officers before this government's term in office ends in 2027, Kolehmainen said.
However, although the profession is highly respected in Finland, he added, attracting new recruits is challenging and often slower than required.
The police's training college can currently admit up to 400 new students per year, but the last time it actually managed to do so was in 2018. In 2022, 255 new students were enrolled in the academy.
Kolehmainen further noted that the academy is looking to recruit new candidates from a diverse range of professional backgrounds.
"I want people with a civilian background to join the police. We need business graduates, IT engineers for investigations, lawyers, security guards, and so on," he said.
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