The SPJL has long expressed concern over the impact of rolling budget and personnel cuts to the force. The association said that Wednesday’s march is meant to draw attention not only to the welfare of serving officers struggling to cope with more work and fewer resources, but also to citizens’ right to security.
“When the decision makers reduced resources for internal security, they also undermined security for ordinary Finns. We don’t want out security to suffer,” said SPJL head Jorma Tiainen.
According to the SPJL other parts of Europe have an average police-to-citizen ration of 1 to 400; however in Finland the ratio is even lower, with a single officer serving up to 733 citizens.
The police union estimates that some 1,000 officers across the country will participate in the demonstration. In Helsinki officers will march from the Helsinki Music Centre to Senate Square, where police officers and politicians will deliver speeches. The police band will also be in attendance.
The national security campaign kicked off Tuesday with discussions on the subject of internal security and a prominent front-page advertisement in the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat.
Part of the campaign also involves collecting 7,500 toy emergency vehicles to symbolise the current size of the police force in Finland. The vehicles also represent the ordinary citizen’s need for everyday security, the association said.
“We will hand over the toy cars to the minister when the event ends. After that they will be donated to a Christmas collection for underprivileged kids,” Tiainen explained.
The police union has repeatedly warned police administrators of the dangers of under-resourcing. Back in August police chief Mikko Paatero floated the idea of introducing "village police" to plug holes in the force. At the time Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen appeared to support the idea and indicated she would take the matter forward with police top brass.