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Police getting tougher on street crime

Petty street crime by pickpockets and small-time drug dealers has been on the rise in Helsinki over the past few years. Police are now moving to deal with street crime in the capital more swiftly and more visibly.

"Last year, we were able to prevent almost 1,700 cases of pickpocketing. This was done by having plain clothes officers in clubs and restaurants working in close cooperation with staff. Also, cooperation [of this kind] was carried out with Helsinki Regional Transport and [state railways] VR," explains Helsinki Police Chief Lasse Aapio.

According to police, foreign organised crime groups are involved in many of the petty crimes committed in the capital. This makes solving these crimes even more difficult, as those involved have often left the country even before a crime report has been dealt with by police. Police now say they will be aim to be faster off the mark.

"Our aim is that all police personnel are constantly involved in criminal investigations. If a robbery, or some other crime takes place, an investigation will be launched immediately, not the next day," says Police Chief Lasse Aapio.

Clampdown on drugs

The drug trade has increasingly moved out of back rooms and into the streets. Last year, Helsinki police seized tens of thousands of euros in cash from the street trade in drugs and apprehended over 200 people suspected of involvement.

Cooperation has been increased with Estonian authorities and street dealing is no longer the concern solely of the narcotics unit.

"We have a working narcotics unit which is focused on serious offenses. However, we aim at having the whole force involved in fighting drug crimes. Our prime target are drug crimes where the users are primarily young people," says Assistant Police Chief Ilkka Koskimäki.