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Friday’s papers: Pokémon Go mania, ethnic profiling, and cottage disputes that can escalate to violence

On the domestic front, Finnish daily newspapers run a gamut of stories ranging from the popularity of the Pokémon Go mobile game in Finland – despite the fact that the app has not yet been released in the country – to police renouncing ethnic profiling, and cottage disputes that take on dangerous dimensions.

Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

Main Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat (HS) leads on the domestic front with a two-page spread on the Pokémon Go mobile game craze. Although the smartphone app has not yet been launched in Finland, thousands are already playing the game, which is based on the popular TV series.

As HS writes, the game prompts users to venture outdoors and collect virtual, fictional animals that are projected into real-life locations.

”The best thing is that this game really encourages you to move outdoors,” 17-year-old Pokémon Go enthusiast Tommi Arffman told HS.

Arffman is not alone, the global Pokémon Go phenomenon is likely to be the most popular mobile game ever, writes HS – the app was just launched in a few countries last week but it’s already been downloaded by more than 20 million users worldwide.

Ethic profiling unacceptable

HS then turns to a news item about the Finnish police saying they renounce ethnic profiling. According to HS, the police say they do not monitor foreigners according to their ethnicity.

Immigrant monitoring and ethnic profiling were in the headlines earlier this week when James Nikander, known as the musician Musta Barbaari, posted a Facebook account of what he described as police brutality towards his family members in Helsinki. (The incident is being investigated by police.)

”The city centre, parks, markets and other public spaces, public transit and stations: these are the places where we can assume that foreigners are. But regardless of the location, target selection must be done without discriminating against anyone,” Helsinki police commissioner Henri Helminen told HS.

HS writes that according to police, crimes suspected to be committed by foreigners in all of Finland have increased by 886 incidents since the beginning of the year. Pick-pocketing and shoplifting are the most common crimes committed by foreigners, according to police. 

Cottage feuds

Indicative of the holiday season – much of Finland is on holiday in July - tabloid Iltalehti leads with a cover story on the bitter disputes between cottage owners, with stories from police and prosecutors.

Iltalehti writes that disputes can start from something as seemingly minor as branches being blown from a tree onto a neighbour's property. Unfortunately, small things have escalated to physical abuse and even foul play – the most recent victim of the latter was a police officer shot dead in Vihti when he went to straighten out a dispute between neighbours in June. 

Though Iltalehti's article does not provide statistics on the number of cottage disputes annually or the human and financial cost, the paper does include an interview with detective chief inspector Heikki Mansikka-aho from the Eastern Finnish Police.

”A road, a border, a ditch, and water are keywords when it comes to border disputes,” Mansikka-aho tells Iltalehti. He says that when these escalate, they unfortunately and unnecessarily tie up police resources. ”From years of experience I can say that the criminal process does not solve these types of problems. We actively recommend going to a concilialtor." 

Meanwhile, competing tabloid Ilta-Sanomat runs a feature on the eight most common cottage accidents and how to avoid them. These include burns and injuries from the sauna or barbecue and sustaining injury while renovating or carrying out tasks such as chopping wood.