Looking at the Eurostat 2016 statistics on police numbers in Europe Finland comes second, after Hungary, with the smallest number of police officers per hundred thousand of the population.
This number is half of the European average and is both good news and bad news for Finns.
The numbers of police have been reduced as a matter of policy by the main political parties over the past decade, when austerity has been the main political mantra.
The good news is that we pay much less for having our streets and homes safe. The bad news is that we cannot be sure that things will remain safe and secure.
Up until now, we have been a law-abiding country that is the envy of the rest of the world. We spend heavily on education and have a reasonably good social safety net to prevent poverty and crime developing. It could be better but the results are clearly to be seen in two uncontroversial facts:
- Finland has second best police force in the world.
The International Police Science Association publishes the World Internal Security & Police Index (WISPI)that ranks Finland second after Singapore on the WISPI, was the highest ranked of the five Nordic countries. All five ranked in the top 15 of the Index, with an overall score of 0.863. Like the third ranked country Denmark, Finland had excellent scores on the process, legitimacy, and outcomes domains, but a below average score on the capacity domain. Finland scored the best of any country on the legitimacy domain with a score of 0.919, the second highest process domain score, and the ninth highest score on the outcomes domain.
- Finland has Europe’s smallest prison population per thousand inhabitants
According to Eurostat we happen to have the lowest prison population in relative terms.
The above sounds good but the free movement of people within Europe and increased levels of immigration from outside Europe due to wars and climate change does not necessarily improve security and safety here in Finland.
What has been more noticeable in the press are comments and complaints from the general public that lessor crimes have not been followed up by the police. For instance, cycle thefts, small burglaries, crimes involving domestic violence, etc. This was conformed in a recent disclosure of a 2014 PowerPoint instructions handed (sorry only in Finnish) out to the police force by their bosses, that recommended that such lessor crimes be left aside to concentrate on more important ones!
Naturally the Conservative Party Interior Minister was officially offended by the existence such instructions before accepting the reality that party had been the driving force for this reduction in police resources. Politicians always appear reluctant to take responsibility for the mistakes of their former colleagues! We can only hope that new election promises will be made to correct the errors of their ways.