Visit by Europol’s Executive Director to Finland: Organised crime is increasingly violent – Finnish Police needs to maintain high capability

Publication date 25.2.2022 13.56
News item
National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen and Europol's Executive Director Catherine De Bolle are standing in front of a background fabric which has the Finnish police's symbol on it.
National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen and Europol's Executive Director Catherine De Bolle.

Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle visited Finland this week. Recently appointed for her second 4-year period at the head of Europol, Catherine De Bolle met with the Finnish Police executives and paid a visit, among others, to the core centre of competence of the Police international operations, the National Bureau of Investigation (KRP). Head of Europol’s Serious and Organised Crime Centre, Jari Liukku was part of her delegation.

Executive Director De Bolle described the increasingly unscrupulous violence related to organised crime. According to her, the impacts of the violence inflicted by organised crime have already been witnessed in some of Finland’s neighbouring countries. 

Executive Director De Bolle expressed her concern for the fact that the recent focus choices in the operations of security authorities may have given leeway to organised crime.

–  Organised crime is one of the major security challenges faced by law enforcement authorities. However, the fight against this criminality has received less attention in various European countries as other questions, such as cybercrime, the fight against terrorism and immigration issues have taken precedence, she points out.

Organised crime can constitute a part of the normal everyday operations because as many as 80% of the criminal actors try to infiltrate into the legal businesses to enable their criminal activities, she adds. 

– Organised crime has not suffered from the Covid-19 restrictions to the same degree as societies at large; instead, the pandemic has provided the criminals with a chance to expand their operations to, for example, cybercrime.

According to Executive Director De Bolle, enhanced international cooperation is necessary, above all to identify and track down high-level criminals; too often, the authorities succeed in catching lower-ranking criminals only, and apprehending them has no significant impact on the security situation overall.

National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen pointed out that maintaining and enhancing international cooperation is key for preventing international organised crime from gaining a strong foothold in Finland. 

–  Our European operating environment suggests that the challenges are all but decreasing, and therefore we have to keep the Finnish Police strong and capable, Police Commissioner Kolehmainen insists.

Cooperation has already been fruitful

The cooperation between Europol and the Finnish Police has led to recent concrete examples of success.

–  We particularly appreciated Europol’s support in our investigations of extensive drugs-related cases in 2021, Deputy National Police Commissioner Sanna Heikinheimo says.

In the future, European cooperation has a very favourable outlook as the EU Regulation on Europol is being amended. The change will improve the Agency’s operating capacities, for example, in processing large data volumes, exploiting new innovations and collaborating with private parties. The Finnish Police have expressed its great satisfaction with the consensus that the EU legislators have reached in the process to amend the Europol Regulation. 

–  We are convinced that Europol will continue to be able to provide efficient support to the investigation of extensive and complex cases, Deputy Police Commissioner Sanna Heikinheimo adds.

The discussions during the visit focused on issues such as tighter cooperation of analysis at various levels of the analysis work. 

–  Analysis is one of Europol’s key functions, and the seamless cooperation between the Finnish Police and Europol is important in the fight against organised crime and terrorism, not only in Finland but in the EU at large, Deputy National Police Commissioner Sanna Heikinheimo comments on the collaboration.

For a number of years, the Finnish Police has developed its own analysis operations to be seamlessly and in the most viable way linked with the EU level analysis cooperation maintained by Europol.

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