Police is worried about emotional distress of children and adolescents

2.2.2021 10.00
News item

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed everyday life last year. This was also clearly reflected in police operations. Due to the restrictions, movement of people decreased and consequently the number of assaults in public places declined.

The urgent calls of the police focused on home addresses instead. So-called noise nuisance calls increased in particular as people couldn’t go to restaurants to spend the evening. 

According to the National Police Commissioner, Seppo Kolehmainen, the police finds disquieting the increase in domestic violence and unreported crimes, the anxiety of children and adolescents and the general distress of people. 

In the cases that the police has become aware of during the pandemic, particularly use of narcotics, speeding and data network crimes have increased. 

- In the strategic objectives of the police, emphasis is on prevention of crimes and disturbances. The police invests especially in the good management of matters of children and adolescents, and has in the year of the pandemic felt pronounced concern about the situation of young people, Kolehmainen highlights.

Stop! campaign encourages to seek help

According to Kolehmainen, the police has given high priority to Anchor youth work and co-operation between authorities, which have both been developed.

- Several concerning events have also been prevented with social media following and participation in the general discussion. As a result of the police messaging through the same channels, arranging the disturbance-prone event may have even been given up completely.
Similarly, the Anchor work has resulted in several successes, where comprehensive intervention has changed the course of a concerning development. 

The police started in co-operation with its interest groups the ”Stop!” campaign, which encourages to seek help at an early stage. No one should be left alone in a difficult situation.

Crime reported to the police increased by 20 per cent, number of alarm calls remained the same

A total of 537,808 offences against the Criminal Code were reported to the police in 2020. The number increased by a little over 20 per cent in comparison to the previous year, i.e. almost by 90,800 offences. The number of property crimes, narcotics offences and traffic offences grew approximately at the same rate. 

However, the total number of violent crimes decreased by almost three per cent. The number of violent crimes committed in public places decreased by over ten per cent, whereas the number of such crime in private locations increased by almost five per cent.

The number of homicides, including attempts, rose by almost 15 per cent.

The number of urgent alarm calls received by the police (urgency category A and B assignments) remained almost the same (approximately 488,700), but the number of domestic disturbance calls increased by over 26 per cent.

Operational readiness time improved slightly (category A and B assignments). Last year it was 15 minutes, whereas in the previous year it was 15.6 minutes.

Implementation of the Emergency Powers Act for the first time after the wars and the related closure of the borders of Uusimaa in the Corona spring required adaptability, particular flexibility and extensive retargeting of resources from police operations.

A byproduct of the restriction of movement was that the share of foreign nationals in the position of a suspect slightly decreased, particularly in property crimes. 

Narcotics abuse and related disadvantages have increased

The use of narcotics and the spillover effects further increased in the year of the pandemic. The continuous rise in the use of narcotics manifests itself to the police, in addition to disorderly conduct as well as narcotics offences, crimes against property and violent crimes, as an increasing number of cases of driving under the influence of drugs , for example.

- We are particularly concerned about the youth in this regard as well. A lot has been done to improve the situation, but police opportunities are limited. Usually when the police enters the picture, the undesired development has already begun, Kolehmainen states.

Helpdesk scams have become more common

Online environment has become an established part of people’s environment, and at the same time, also a part of the environment in which the police operates. Large amounts of disinformation are spread online, intentionally and unintentionally.

According to the National Police Commissioner, Seppo Kolehmainen, the police uses more and more time to participate in public discussion and rectify misleading information pertaining to its field. 

Online crime and crime utilizing the web as well as cybercrime not only increase, but also develop rapidly. Data networks are utilized, for example, in manufacturing web-assisted fraud. 

For example, so called Helpdesk scams are regrettably common: In a telephone call, the caller claims that there is an information security problem with the victims computer and requests for remote access to the computer in order to fix the problem. The real purpose is most likely to obtain money or access to the content of the computer by fraud.

Extortions and identity theft from the Vastaamo security breach

An unparalleled plethora of crimes became public at the end of last year, when the police notified of the security breach of psychotherapy centre Vastaamo that was under investigation. 

The security breach and directly related offences, such as identity theft and extortion, were so many in total that the entirety reflects on the number of offences against the Criminal Code for the entire year and its percentual growth.  

- This chain of offences is a tragic example of extensive human suffering and financial loss, implemented by one act, of which some may arise as a result of identity theft after long periods of time, says Kolehmainen. 

Said case also describes, in the view of Kolehmainen, the challenges faced by the society, and the police as a part thereof, in the 2020s. 

- Alongside the traditional challenges, the new challenges of criminal investigation are increasingly in the management and investigation of large masses of data, in the internationality of offences committed over the web as well as legislation being based on the idea of real world structures. 
The number of extortions rose last year, as a result of Vastaamo, from just over 1,100 offences to almost 20,000 offences.

Police resources in effective use

Various encryption methods in the devices, applications and Web traffic of criminals are further increasing and require continuous development of the police’s own methods, equipment and know-how.

- A more and more substantial part of personnel and material resources of the police is tied to solving network related matters, while the traditional challenges have not disappeared anywhere, the National Police Commissioner emphasizes.  

According to Kolehmainen, this has inevitably had an impact on, for example, the investigation times of offences.

- During the challenging year police resources were in effective use and the quantity of crimes solved was more than before. The quantity of reported crimes has concurrently increased, which for one reduces the clear-up rate.

Number of licensing services plummeted

After the reduction in travel, the customer numbers of police licensing services nothing less than plummeted, when old passports and ID cards were not renewed. 

Over 840,000 licenses were acquired from the police in 2020, whereas the quantity in the previous year was over 1.3 million. The decline was just over 37 per cent.

Thus, the police would like to remind that the police licensing services assist customers also during the Corona pandemic. The police has secured a safe method for customer transactions, also applicable to a personal visit, if necessary. 

Several services are also easily available on the web at www.poliisi.fi. Irrespective of the situation, it is advisable to renew all travel documents in good time.  

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