Police get high marks from Finns
Satisfaction high, complaints increase
The Finnish people have increasing confidence in the police as an institution, even though complaints from the public about police actions have increased.
According to the latest “police barometer” published on Wednesday, 96 per cent of respondents felt that Finnish police are either very trustworthy, or fairly trustworthy.
The previous such survey was conducted in 2007.
On Sunday, Helsingin Sanomat reported that of the 4,500 complaints received by the Parliamentary Ombudsman on actions of public officials, one in six involved the police.
Suspicions of criminal activity within the police have made headlines in recent years. The survey found that one in four Finns feels that it is very likely or fairly likely that corruption or unethical activities take place within the police.
Minister of the Interior Anne Holmlund (Nat. Coalition Party) feels that the results of the barometer indicate that citizens are able to sort out the isolated cases from the overall activities of the police.
She said that she is not concerned about the increase in complaints.
“Naturally, if the same types of matters start bringing in many complaints, we need to draw the conclusion that we need to give guidance, additional training, and even an upgrade in discipline”, Holmlund says.
In the view of Jorma Toivanen of the supervision and emergency action unit of the National Board of Police, confidence will be enhanced by handling problems that emerge in an open manner.
“When the police do not wash their dirty laundry themselves, but rather bring suspicions before prosecutors for investigation, it shows the people that the internal supervision system works”, Toivanen notes.
Twenty nine per cent of respondents felt that police take a more severe attitude toward people of different cultures and races than toward other Finns. In 2007, 40 per cent had this perception.
Holmlund believes that the emphasis placed on equality in police training is starting to be seen in the field as well.
“At least it should be, but as there are nearly 7,900 police officers, and more than 10,000 people working in the police administration, some cases can always come up."
The barometer was conducted by the polling agency Taloustutkimus, and involved interviews with about 1,000 people aged 15 to 79 living in 80 communities. it was carried out in April and May this year.
Previously in HS International Edition:
One in four Finns believe police corruption exists (24.4.2008)