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Wednesday's papers: Metro disruption, minors targeted on social apps and sleeping rough

Weekend service breaks on the eastern end of the Helsinki metro, adult men seeking out minors on social apps and a city stymied by a homeless elder.

Metro Rautatieasema Helsinki
Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

Metro services in eastern Helsinki will grind to a halt for two days starting Friday to facilitate the installation of interlocking systems, reports tabloid daily Iltalehti. The shutdown on the eastern portion of the line will last throughout the weekend and commuters will have to resort to using buses, the paper wrote. Helsinki Regional Transport HSL, has warned commuters on its website that they would need to exercise additional patience over the weekend and to prepare for delays.

The service noted that replacement buses might be overcrowded as a result of the disruption, although it plans to provide extra bus services on certain routes. The upgrade work will disrupt services between Itäkeskus and Mellunmäki and Vuosaari from Friday evening, while the service break will be on a longer stretch from Lauttasaari to the eastern end of the line on Saturday and Sunday. Trains will continue to run westwards to Espoo, however.

12-year-old received messages, shut down conversation

Helsinki police are calling on parents to monitor their children's online activity to prevent them from becoming targets of sex crimes, according to Helsingin Sanomat. On Monday the department issued a warning on Facebook, telling parents that both boys and girls could be lured into performing sex acts by way of social apps and games.

"At the moment the most current are WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok and Kik Messenger, but the world of social media changes rapidly," it said.

Police cautioned that children might be cajoled into sexual intercourse or may be asked to provide explicit photos that might be later used for extortion. Police linked the warning to cases of suspected sexual abuse in the Oulu region, where social media was believed to have played a role in the alleged offences.

HS noted that police receive hundreds of reports annually about suspected or attempted sex crimes involving minors targeted on social media. The paper cited the recent case of a Hyvinkää mother who learned last week that a strange man had struck up a WhatsApp conversation with her 12-year-old daughter, while another wrote to the child that he was "aroused".

Still another, seemingly an adult, sent heart emojis and asked the girl whether they could get to know each other -- and requested she send selfies -- in poor Finnish. The mother learned of the messages from the parent of a friend to whom the 12-year-old had sent the messages. The girl had already terminated the conversations herself, however.

Sleeping rough in Finland for 15 years

Tampere-based daily Aamulehti runs the story of city officials stymied by the case of rough sleeper "Bag lady Leena" (Laukku Leena), who has been sleeping under the stars -- with only a tattered tarpaulin for shelter -- in the Jämsä municipality for a year. Leena Kiviharju told local reporters that she turned 71 on Monday and has been homeless in various parts of the country for some 15 years.

While much has been written about Leena over the years, she rarely gives interviews and on at least two occasions social media declared her dead. In spite of her reticence, AL writes, Leena is well-known by police departments and rescue service officials throughout the country, since many concerned individuals have called in reports about her situation.

Jämsä technical director Tarja Kuisman told the paper that the city had done everything in its power to help Leena, but she has steadfastly refused assistance. "The only thing that the city's amenities services can do is to expel her but it won't help at all. The problem will go to some other part of Jämsä or to another municipality. It would be pulling the blanket to the other end [of the bed]," she noted.

Local police said that they cannot use coercive measures against someone who chooses to sleep rough. A meeting of local officials left the ball in the municipality's court and police said they could provide support to other authorities if their presence is required.

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