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Orpo disappointed by police chief's street patrol comments

Finnish Minister of the Interior Petteri Orpo said he was disappointed by statements made by the head of police about the establishment of citizen street patrols across the country. Orpo said that the police commissioner's statements should have more heavily emphasised that the police are responsible for law enforcement, not private citizens.

Petteri Orpo
Finnish Minister of the Interior Petteri Orpo in December 2015. File photo. Image: Yle

On Tuesday National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen commented on the growth of street patrols, stating that the volunteer forces are a welcome development.

The patrols are chiefly organised by right-wing groups like the Soldiers of Odin, which have grown since the influx of asylum seekers from war-torn areas in the Middle East and Africa began last summer.

Kolehmainen said that while patrols had no right to intervene in other people's activities, they could for example notify police if they witness a crime in progress.

Kolehmainen made the comments after police in Häme had made earlier statements putting the street patrols in a positive light.

Orpo said that Kolhemainen's statements could be misunderstood; adding the point of the police statement was to clarify and underscore the police's role in law enforcement and security on the streets of Finland.

The police commissioner also received criticism on social media for his statements about far-right groups patrolling the streets.

"In Finland it is officials who oversee and take care of order in society," Orpo said. "It is a simple matter and we will stick to it."

Soldiers of Odin patrol 19 towns

Right wing group the Soldiers of Odin have received attention in the media over the past few months and the group claims to have organised street patrols in 19 towns across Finland.

At publication time of this article, the Soliders of Odin had just over 4,000 likes on its Facebook page.

On Tuesday Joensuu city council put out a statement objecting to recently-started actions by the Soldiers of Odin in the town, which states that it is an "organisation fighting patriotically for white Finland."

Joensuu councillors said that the town remains very secure and that there's no need for anyone other than the police to patrol the streets.

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