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Monday's papers: Roadside births up, police interrogating unaccompanied kids, footballing fiasco averted

Among the top stories this morning are claims that maternity ward cuts are leading to more women giving birth while travelling to hospital. Elsewhere, new guidelines hope to put an end to the police practice of questioning unaccompanied child victims of crime. And there's widespread relief that Finland's footballers managed to avoid another embarrassing disappointment in the run-up to a major tournament.

Ambulanssi kiidättää loukkaantuneita sairaalahoitoon Hyvinkäällä 26. toukokuuta 2012.
Maternity ward closures mean increasing numbers of women are giving birth in ambulances or cars on the way to hospital, Helsingin Sanomat claims. Image: Yle

Among Helsingin Sanomat’s lead stories is the news that more and more women are giving birth in cars on the way to the hospital, as a result of government closures of maternity wards.

The paper says the number of maternity hospitals in Finland has decreased in recent years, and cites government plans to shut down all maternity departments with under a thousand births per year. This equates to six of the country’s 27 current units.

Helsingin Sanomat cites this as the reason for a 20 percent rise in births en route to hospital – up to around 150 last year out of a total of 58,000 children born. The paper talks to Heidi Moilanen, whose son was delivered in an ambulance, parked in an ABC service station 30 kilometres from Oulu University Hospital. Moilanen’s total journey to the maternity ward was 230 kilometres.

Moilanen says she wouldn’t recommend the experience. “I was trying to push, but I couldn’t fit my feet anywhere. My knee got dislocated and that hurt for a long time afterwards.”

However the Institute for Health and Welfare defend the plan to shut smaller hospitals. “Small departments without 24-hour duty care, carry a higher statistical risk of child death. By centralising all births into a larger hospital, we can save two or three babies a year,” a spokesman tells the paper.

Unaccompanied children interrogated

The front page of Tampere’s Aamulehti carries revelations that some police forces routinely question child victims of crime without an appropriate adult present.

The practice is a result of differing guidelines set out by district courts, Aamulehti says, in the absence of a clear law demanding that a responsible adult is present during police interviews to safeguard a child’s needs and emotions, as well as to offer a plea on behalf of the child.

The paper reports Inspector Mia Tuominen as saying that some courts decide that it would take too long for an appropriate adult to arrive, and so allow the child to be questioned alone, to avoid risking prejudicing the police investigation.

The paper says his scenario arises when a child’s parents have been suspected of a crime, for example. However Tuominen, who tells the paper that “this situation cannot be allowed to continue,” has now produced guidelines for law-enforcers which state that a responsible adult must always be present during questioning of a minor.

Eagle Owls flying high

Iltalehti’s relief is palpable following Finland’s 3-1 victory over the Faroe Islands yesterday in the qualifiers for football’s 2016 European Championship.

“Fiasco averted,” the headline runs, all too aware of the Finns’ long history of embarrassing disappointments on the pitch. The paper sees yesterday's result as a possible good sign, and estimate's Paatelainen's men have a fighting chance of securing a place in the finals in France.

Two goals yesterday from Riku Riski took the Huuhkajat (“Eagle Owls”) ahead from 1-0 down, before Roman Eremenko’s third in the 82nd minute sealed the team’s three points. They’ll go on to play Greece on October 11th.

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