Close to a hundred locations inspected by authorities to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation
In May, the police participated in the joint action days of 46 countries against trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation. The authorities inspected businesses in which, according to prior information, sexual services might have been offered.
The theme of the international joint action days against human trafficking carried out in the second week of May was the fight against sexual exploitation. Authorities working together in the operational areas of ten police departments in Finland, checked, among other locations, bars, nightclubs and massage parlours where, according to prior information, sexual services might have been offered for sale.
In addition to businesses, the authorities also carried out targeted checks on international passenger traffic on the basis of prior information.
– Inspections were carried out at nearly a hundred locations across Finland. In addition to the police departments, the joint Passenger Information Centre of the Police, Customs and Border Guard as well as representatives of the Regional State Administrative Agency and the Border Guard participated in the action week, says Detective Chief Inspector Petri Partanen of the National Bureau of Investigation, which coordinated the action week at national level.
– Human trafficking and sexual exploitation involve a lot of undetected crimes which the authorities aim to prevent and detect by taking targeted measures, for example. The aim of the action week is not only to address possible issues and help victims, but also to make observations that will help to better address and prevent trafficking offences, says Partanen.
Based on the findings from the action days, the police have started criminal investigation into one case of pandering and two cases of extortionate work discrimination. Those offences can be considered as crimes associated to human trafficking offences.
The fight against human trafficking requires international and national cooperation
The worldwide operation took place from 8 to 14 May 2023 and was organised by the European Union's law enforcement cooperation agency Europol, the International Criminal Police Organisation Interpol and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex. Law enforcement authorities from 46 countries on five continents took part in the operation led by Austria.
At international level, the action days focused on sexual exploitation, child trafficking, forced begging and human trafficking linked to forced crime, in accordance with national priorities of each participating country. The authorities participating in the operation identified a total of 1,426 potential victims of human trafficking and arrested 212 suspects. During the action week, 1.6 million individuals, 25,400 locations, 153,300 vehicles and 72,850 documents were checked.
International cooperation strengthens anti-trafficking efforts in Finland.
Human trafficking is a serious crime that crosses national borders, and international co-operation between law enforcement authorities is key to its suppression. At national level, the joint action days streamline the co-operation in the fight against human trafficking, says Partanen.
The fight against trafficking in human beings is one of the priorities of Europol's Multidisciplinary Platform against Crime, EMPACT. In Finland, the National Bureau of Investigation serves as the national contact point for the EMPACT cooperation and reports the findings from the operation carried out in Finland to the organising authority.
Europol's press release: 1 426 potential victims identified in global operation against human trafficking.
Increasing number of human trafficking offences recorded in Finland in recent years
The number of reported cases of human trafficking and associated offences filed by Finnish criminal investigation authorities (302 in total) was slightly lower in 2022 than in 2021. That figure is also about 30 % higher compared to 2020, and around 60 % higher compared to 2019.
The number of reported cases of trafficking and related crimes solved by the police last year was twice as high as in 2021 (101 solved in 2021 and 208 solved in 2022).
An increasing number of reports on human trafficking recorded in recent years indicate that incidents related to the offence have increasingly taken place in Finland. In 2022, in about 74 % of the reports, at least some incidents relating to the offence took place in Finland. In 2017, 53% of the reports involved incidents that took place abroad, compared to about 42.5% in 2018 and about 44% in 2019.