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Police rarely punished after complaints over racism

Yle interviewed several serving police officers who said racist comments were common. 

lähikuva poliisin virka-asusta
Image: Johanna Manu / Yle

Police officers interviewed by Yle have said racist behaviour within the police force is common, even though it rarely comes to light.

Several serving officers interviewed by Yle gave examples of racist comments or inappropriate behaviour from their colleagues towards minorities.

They said that racist comments were rarely challenged among police officers, and that led to an atmosphere of silent acceptance, even though only a minority of officers were guilty of such comments.

"The threat from the far right is real and its tentacles reach as far as the police," said one serving officer.

An Yle investigation found that between 2018 and 2020 internal disciplinary proceedings have only been brought in four cases where police are suspected of racism.

Two of those resulted in a written warning, and two resulted in sackings.

Each year around a thousand criminal complaints are made against police officers, but between 2018 and 2020 just thirty complaints mentioned racism.

None of them included enough evidence to proceed to a preliminary investigation, as such cases normally rely on the complainant's statements and those given by the police officers concerned.

National Police Board member Mikko Eränen assured Yle that they would do their best to ensure trust remained high among minorities. Police work is tough, according to Eränen.

"That can be hard, but it cannot affect our actions," said Eränen. "Police officers have to treat all customers equally."

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