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Regional Differences in Prosecutor Stats

Significant regional differences have cropped up in the ways District Attorneys resolve cases. Discrepancies in the number of charges filed and the number of cases dismissed have Finland's state prosecutor's office worried.

On average, public prosecutors file charges in two-thirds of their cases. But the regional variances are significant. For example, charges are filed in only 41 percent of cases in Vaasa, but in nearly three-quarters of cases in Kouvola.

There were also big differences in the number of cases dropped by prosecutors due to lack of evidence. While the national average was 18, in Raahe 31 percent of cases were dropped while less than seven percent of cases in northern Lapland were deemed without merit.

State Prosecutor Matti Nissinen says the statistics are worrying, because the highs and lows seem too extreme. He has called on the prosecutors' offices with exceptional results to begin investigating the reasons for such discrepancies.

However, he is quick to point out that there may be more at work than prosecutorial zeal. Nissinen says that just because prosecutors in Kouvola file charges in 73 percent of their cases doesn't mean that they are being too aggressive. If the number of cases overturned by the Kouvola courts is the same as in the rest of the country, then the prosecutors are doing a fair job. If, however, the number of cases thrown out of court is also exceptionally high, this could point to a problem with local prosecutors.

Nissinen speculates that the discrepancies are due to a combination of factors, including local police work and the ways prosecutors consider evidence.