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Use of force by Finnish police doubles

Police officers in Finland have more often resorted to force in recent years, says a new report.

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Officers on the beat face new kinds of threats these days, says the report. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The use of force by the Finnish police has doubled since 1999, according to Finland’s Police University College. In 2016, the police used force more than a thousand times.

The violence faced by police officers has become more varied, says chief inspector Henri Rikander from the College, who has conducted research on the topic.

"It used to be tussles and brawls, but nowadays the police officers are confronted with traps or ambushes, where the intention is to harm them," Rikander adds.

The use of force increases in tandem with the amount of violence that the police face in the line of duty, he says.

In 2016, about 800 reports of alleged offences against the police were filed at the Office of the Prosecutor General (VKSV). However, that number also includes reports where force was not used. In a majority of cases involving the use of force, the VKSV decided that it had been justified.

Guns, pepper spray, batons and dogs

The use of force by police is defined as physical force, such as holding a person on the ground, and the use of assistive means, such as a firearm, stun gun, pepper spray, baton or police dog.

Seven people have died from police use of force in Finland since 2000. The most recent case was in 2016 when the police shot a stabbing suspect in Orimattila. The officer is question is suspected of manslaughter and official misconduct, but has not yet been charged.

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