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Police shoot assailants in Helsinki, Vaasa

Police discharged their weapons twice over the weekend, wounding suspects in Helsinki and Vaasa. According to the Police University College Finnish police officers fired 122 shots between 2003 and 2013 -- an average of around a dozen each year.

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Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Police officials say that officers drew and fired their duty firearms at two suspects displaying threatening behaviour over the weekend.

In the first case, a constable from the Ostrobothnia police department shot an armed man in the stomach in the early hours of Sunday morning. A police statement said that the man was shot when he failed to obey police orders as he advanced towards them.

The man was given first aid on the scene and later taken to hospital for treatment after the incident. The police statement says that the Central Finland police department is investigating the man for violently resisting officials.

Helsinki man brandishing knife shot in leg

Meanwhile on Saturday, police shot a man in the leg in Herttoniemi for allegedly behaving in a threatening manner. The 20 year-old man was armed with a knife at the time of the incident.

Police say that he did not obey their orders, but ran towards the officer wielding the knife. He had also reportedly threatened passersby with the weapon.

The Eastern Uusimaa police are investigating the case as violently resisting officials.

The Office of the Prosecutor General will investigate the use of force by police officers in both cases. The police criminal justice unit of the Office of the Prosecutor general is responsible for investigating suspected offences committed by police officers.

Police rarely discharge weapons

According to the National Police Board, officers are only allowed to use their weapons to stop an individual who poses an immediate and grave danger to someone else’s life or health -- but only if there is no other alternative available.

Last November, the Finnish news agency STT reported that on average, Finnish police only use their weapons a few dozen times each year.

According to the Police University College, between 2003 and 2013, police were involved in 385 situations involving the use of weapons, and discharged a total of 122 shots, including warning shots. Situations involving the use of weapons include any circumstances in which police threaten suspects with a firearm or actually discharge one.

Last November police chief inspector Mika Hienilä told STT that there is no real pattern of firearms use among police. He said that such situations might develop suddenly when police arrive on the scene of a suspected crime.

According the police university figures, police resort to the use of force in two out of every 100 arrests, on average. Use of force includes physical restraint, the use of tasers or deploying a police dog.

In one out of four use of force cases, the suspect in question had been in possession of a firearm, knife or other object.

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