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Despite scandals, 95% of Finns still trust the police

Public confidence does not seem to have been dented by a prison term handed down to former Helsinki drug squad chief Jari Aarnio for more than 20 offences.

Poliisi kohta kansalaisia Turun torilla.
Police were criticised for their treatment of immigrants and the disadvantaged. Image: Markku Ojala / AOP

Finns’ faith in the police remains solid. In a poll conducted by the Police University College, 95 percent of respondents said they trust the police.

Public confidence does not even seem to have been dented by a prison term handed down in late 2016 to former Helsinki drug squad chief Jari Aarnio for more than 20 offences.

More than 1,000 Finns aged 15 and older in mainland Finland were interviewed for the latest “police barometer” survey, released on Wednesday. Such polls have been carried out every other year since 1999.

The poll does suggest that public confidence in the incorruptibility of police has suffered a permanent decline. Four out of 10 respondents said they consider it likely that there is corruption and unethical behaviour within the police force. That is up from one in four in polls from before 2012.

Treatment of immigrants cited among mistakes

Interviewees were asked for the first time what kinds of mistakes they think police make. They said there is room for improvement in detainment situations and in resolving disruptions of the peace.

There was also criticism of officers' ability to listen, as well their treatment of immigrants and the disadvantaged. Those surveyed said that the police misjudge traffic violations and are also guilty of such infractions themselves.

Nearly one-fifth of respondents said they saw mistakes by the police.

The main issues of concern for those polled included drunk driving as well the sale and use of illicit drugs. According to the survey, Finns believe that the force's most important duties include responding to alarms, solving and preventing violent crimes, intervening in domestic violence and preventing terrorism.

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