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Friday's papers: Alcolocks in airplanes, police funding and homeless men

Friday's papers take a look at substance abuse among pilots, police funding and how homelessness mostly affects men.

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Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat asks whether airplanes should be fitted with alcolocks to prevent inebriated pilots from flying the aircraft.

Two weeks ago, a Finnair pilot reporting to work was found to have a blood alcohol concentration level of 1.5 permille (mg per ml of blood). Meanwhile, Helsingin Sanomat reported on Thursday that a growing proportion of Finnair’s flying staff suffer from substance abuse problems.

According to Ilta-Sanomat, some of its readers have been shocked by these revelations and say airline staff should be better managed for the sake of passenger safety.

Finnair communications chief Päivyt Tallqvist told the paper that no decisions have been made concerning breathalyser devices on airplanes.

“We take safety issues extremely seriously here. It’s important that we tackle any substance abuse problems at the outset and counsel those who need professional help.”

“Preventative work plays a big role for us, but of course we will consider other solutions too,” Tallqvist says.

Alcolocks are currently in use on Finland’s ferries, Ilta-Sanomat reports.

More funding for police

In other news, national police commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen tells daily Aamulehti that the additional funding proposed for the police will come in handy for helping to prevent security risks.

Kolehmainen said the extra 2.5 million euros assigned for pre-emptive work should be directed to suburban police officers.

“I believe it will be much less expensive for us as a society to prevent the problems beforehand than to solve crimes afterwards,” he says. “It benefits everyone.”

In Kolehmainen’s view, a suburban police could cooperate with other authorities to tackle problems before they get out of hand.

“With this extra allowance we can focus on preemptive work and stop problems from escalating, unlike in Sweden, where a hundred cars were burned in one night.”

Two weeks ago, interior minister Kai Mykkänen called for increased support for so-called “anchor teams” that would consist of police officers and other authorities to help young people before they become marginalised.

The budget also proposes 3.3 million euros for funding police activities in sparsely-populated areas.

According to Aamulehti, there are many areas in Finland where it takes longer than 30 minutes for the police to respond to an emergency. Most are in Lapland, but there are others in the southern archipelago, Kainuu and eastern Finland.

“Budget cuts and retirement have meant that some police stations have been closed down. However, there is a police officer operating in all areas. Walls in themselves do not provide safety,” Kolehmainen says.

Homeless men

Tabloid Iltalehti reports there are about 7,000 homeless people in Finland and 80 percent of them are men.

"Women tend to help each other more and they have better networks," says Tuomas Iso-Ilomäki, who works with the homeless. “Men want to go it alone as long as they can.”

As a result, the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (Stea), which provides financial support for homeless organisations, uses different benchmarks to evaluate funding applications.

For instance, Stea monitors how its support is distributed to homeless people based on age and gender. Nevertheless, the most important criteria for funding are the quality, need and breadth of services offered, Iltalehti says.

Because the reasons for homelessness are diverse, it is impossible to consider funding applications in bulk, the paper explains. Stea therefore subsidises projects targeting a certain group of people at risk of homelessness. One example are women facing domestic violence.

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