One in four Finns believe police corruption exists
Confidence in police remains strong nevertheless
Finns continue to have considerable confidence in their police forces. However, a recent survey also indicates that a growing number of citizens have questions about the ethical standards of their police.
According to the Police Barometer survey put out by the Ministry of the Interior on Wednesday, 94 per cent of citizens trust the actions of the police fairly, or very much. The figure has remained largely unchanged since 2003.
The survey was conducted in late October and early November. Consequently, respondents were not aware of more recent suspicions of malfeasance among drug police, or suspicions raised against National Police Commissioner Markku Salminen.
This year's Police Barometer survey was the first time that questions were asked about the ethical standards employed by the police.
About one in four considered it fairly, or very likely that corruption, or unethical behaviour exist within the police. About one in six suspect that the police might act in an unethical manner toward outsiders, by misusing information, or mistreating those that they have detained.
"In light of these results it is necessary that all suspicions concerning the legality of the activities of the police should be examined immediately and thoroughly", noted Minister of the Interior Anne Holmlund (Nat. Coalition Party) at the press conference at which the results of the survey were released.
Police Commissioner Jorma Toivanen says that the police should take all signs of corruption seriously. As one possible way to prevent corruption, Toivanen mentioned training, and making sure that internal enforcement measures work under all circumstances, and that the right kind of people are recruited for the profession.
He was also concerned about the record-low number of applicants for police training late last year. A likely factor in this is that many police trainees have found themselves unemployed when they complete their studies.
The survey showed that experiences that people have had in their dealings with police have improved. However, a larger number of respondents than before felt that police take a tougher line on people with non-Finnish cultural and racial backgrounds than toward other Finns.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Two new suspects in investigation into activities of drug police (24.1.2008)
National Police Commissioner to retire for health reasons (22.4.2008)
Criminal investigation of activities of Vantaa Drug Police and NBI (12.2.2008)
TV report: Helsinki drug police warned criminals of impending wiretap (11.2.2008)