Security is a value judgment – do we want to compromise on it? The Police are preparing for adjustment
Next year’s Police budget is under threat of a shortfall of EUR 35m-EUR 40m unless the situation is remedied in the government budget session in September. The decision on spending limits in the spring failed to include the resources required by the Police to guarantee even the existing level of Police operations. Without financing, the Police will be facing adjustment measures in all Police operations and units.
“The budget decisions are out of line with police expectations,” says National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen. This is a value judgment of whether or not we want to address security.
The National Police Board has made a start on planning activities to explore how operations would be adjusted and what the implications of these adjustment measures would be. In terms of full-time equivalents, or the annual workload of one employee, the EUR 35m-EUR 40m savings required would mean a reduction of at least 450 full-time equivalents.
Adjustment would also apply to the personnel
Personnel costs account for most of Police spending and this is why it is necessary to look at this as a whole. One option would then be to not extend temporary posts or hire new people to replace those who retire from or otherwise leave the service of the Police. This would apply to police officers and civilians alike.
“This would translate into about EUR 20m – 25m,” says Anne Aaltonen, Director of Administration, who chairs the steering group planning the adjustment measures at the National Police Board. Aaltonen says that redundancies or temporary layoffs would be a very last resort if no other ways could be found.
Other key saving means being explored include cutting down on the premises network, critically reviewing development and centralised procurement, and in future charging for non-statutory duties carried out by the Police. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the savings generated by these measures would materialise next year.
Actual consequences would be seen in all operations
The actual consequences of adjustment measures would be seen in all Police operations. It is still too early to assess what the consequences would mean at the Police unit level. At the strategic level, the Police would increasingly have to focus on tackling essential and urgent threats to life and health.
The contraction of around EUR 40m would affect police visibility and response times throughout Finland, particularly in sparsely populated areas, control of public order and security, road traffic control and criminal investigations.
”I’m particularly concerned about how the personnel will cope if large cuts are decided. The personnel are already overloaded because of a huge workload and changes in job requirements.” Aaltonen says.
The adjustment plan will become clear once the final level of appropriations is known after the government budget session in early September.
“I call for a debate on how valuable – or cheap – security is priced. Mere talks or promises are not enough, also concrete acts are required. We cannot afford to weaken security, but that’s where we’re heading with these decisions. How secure do we want to keep Finland?, Kolehmainen asks.