The Police must live up to considerable expectations – and rightly so – in the prevention of domestic violence and violence against women. In fact, when involved in their daily tasks, the Police keeps on encountering parties of violent act in all parts of the country. The Police is involved in active collaboration with various actors, and multi-professional work at the Police stations with the social welfare and healthcare professionals is particularly smooth and impactful to help the people in these situations.
Cooperation is needed since the domestic violence problems cannot be solved by the Police alone. It is a well-known fact that it is difficult to cut oneself loose from a violent relationship, and in the end, it is always a decision that the individual has to make themselves. To leave for good often takes place after many attempts, assisted by versatile support given at the right time, and sometimes a multi-professional safety plan is also required.
In order to put a stop to violence or threat of it, the perpetrator must not be left alone, either. It is rare that violence would stop on its own. Other parties involved should neither be left to cope alone; this is particularly true for children that may have already suffered deep and far-reaching impacts of the insecurity at home, to the extent that violence tends to become also their way of solving problems in human relationships. The circle of violence is carried on from a generation to another.
One of this year’s focal points in the operations of the Committee for the prevention of violence against women and domestic violence (NAPE) has been the enhancing of the Police competences, especially those of the officers in control and alarm functions, in this issues. Funded by the Committee, the National Police Board has been running a one-year project named MARAK. Last spring, the project performed a survey based on which the Police needs more competences, especially in identifying various forms of domestic violence and in guiding the crime victims towards the support services right during the acute situation. Risk assessment also needs a more systematic approach.
The project has also involved the development of practical tools for risk assessment, more active multi-professional cooperation, crime investigation and helping the parties of the crimes towards the support and assistance services. Moreover, the Police University College is preparing a training entity for all Police staff working with domestic violence issues, to be implemented in 2021. Among other targets, the training package aims at responding to the training needs raised by GREVIO, the party supervising the enforcement of the Istanbul Convention. The training focuses on Police obligations, various forms of domestic violence, ways to intervene and multi-professional cooperation and risk management.
The National Police Board has requested the Police units to report on their own development actions to tackle and prevent domestic violence. The responses will be analysed and the necessary future development action will be planned based also on the respective results.
From the Police perspective, domestic violence and violence against women are part of a larger whole, with the particularly vulnerable crime victims as the common denominator. In the so-called Victims Directive, the term ‘victims with specific protection needs’ refers to persons who are particularly vulnerable to secondary and repeat victimisation, from intimidation and from retaliation.
This entity is thus linked with phenomena such as domestic violence, crimes against children, human trafficking, sexual crimes and elderly people. This is a similar area of demanding competence needs where the Police requires improved competences and regional networking with other actors.
In fact, the Police Board has been elaborating on a so-called ESTO operative model of crime prevention (from the Finnish words Erityisen Suojelun Tarpeessa Olevat – those in need of special protection) whereby the Police special experts would investigate the cases centrally, irrespective of the type of crime. This operating model could constitute efficient crime prevention, also from the repeated criminality or so-called recidivism perspective, as the issues of all parties could be handled efficiently and multi-professionally on one go, as far as possible.
It has also been seen in various contexts that concentrating the cases to specialists brings about several benefits, such as the knowledge of legislative requirements, competence in encountering the parties, permanent and developing cooperation networks, risk assessment competence and an overall expertise in the crime-related dynamisms, with their psychological dimensions.
The National Police Board has been involved in the preparations for the 2022‒2025 enforcement plan of the Istanbul Convention. The actions are also taken to respond to the observations of GREVIO. The objective is to improve the future capabilities and skills in intervening with crime, and to prevent recidivism, not just through cooperation but working truly together to help people.
Chief Superintendent Pekka Heikkinen Superintendent Minna Liimatainen National Police Board
Pekka Heikkinen is the National Police Board Superintendent responsible for violent crime prevention and prevention action coordination, member of the Committee set by Government to prevent violence against women and domestic violence (NAPE) 2021-2025. Superintendent Minna Liimatainen works in the Police MARAK project and is an expert member of the NAPE Committee in 2021. This text is part of the series of NAPE blogs focusing on the various aspects of the impacts and national enforcement of the Istanbul Convention, i.e., the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.