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Environmental offences

Impairment of the environment is a crime. Environmental offences are acts that damage and endanger the environment, natural resources and the plant or animal kingdom.
A typical environmental offence investigated by the police is unauthorised disposal or storage of waste. 

Environmental offences are provided for in both the Criminal Code and special environmental legislation. The purpose of legislation is to prevent impairment of the environment. 

Prevent environmental offences

The effects of environmental offences can often be seen only after a long time. Because of this, it’s important to intervene as soon as possible in acts that damage the environment. Everyone can help prevent environmental offences.

  • Report your observations to the municipal environmental authorities,  the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) or the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI).
  • When disposing of waste, find out how waste should be handled and disposed. You can get help from supervisory authorities (municipality, ELY Centre or AVI).
  • Remember that littering is not allowed. 
  • Many animals, plants or areas are protected by the Nature Conservation Act or other laws. Check the lawfulness of your actions before doing anything.
  • If you suspect a crime, report it to the area’s police department.

The side of a police car with rain drops in the foreground. A wooded shoreline in the background.

Animal offences

Animal offences are acts and neglect that cause pain or suffering to an animal. 
Aggravated animal welfare offences, animal welfare offences and petty animal welfare offences are defined in the Criminal Code. Animal welfare infringements are defined in the Animal Welfare Act.

Offences against animals are also included in nature conservation offences as well as hunting and fishing offences. 

In Helsinki, offences against animals are investigated in a centralised manner

The Helsinki Police Department has a task force that investigates all offences against animals in the police department’s area. 

Typical cases to investigate are dog attacks towards humans or other dogs, animal welfare offences and smuggling offences.

The task force cooperates with the City of Helsinki’s supervisory veterinarians, county veterinarians, Finnish Food Authority and Customs. 


Environmental offences can be punished with a fine or imprisonment:

  • fine or imprisonment for a maximum of six months for environmental infractions
  • fine or imprisonment for a maximum of two years for impairment of the environment
  • imprisonment for a minimum of four months and a maximum of six years for impairment of the environment.

Animal offences can be punished with a fine or imprisonment:

  • fine for animal welfare infringement
  • fine for petty animal welfare offence
  • fine or imprisonment for a maximum of two years for animal welfare offence
  • imprisonment for a minimum of four months and a maximum of four years for aggravated animal welfare offence

A person sentenced for an animal welfare offence can also be ordered to lose their right to own, keep or care for animals. The ban on keeping animals can be fixed-term or permanent. 

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Enviromental crime reports

Environmental crime reports do not fully meet accessibility requirements. You can inquire about documents from the National Police Board Registry at [email protected]i.

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Environmental Crime Seminar 2021

EVENT: Seminar (Invite only)
DATE: Thursday and Friday 7 and 8 October 2021
PLACE: Sibelius Hall, Ankkurikatu 7, 15140 Lahti, Finland

See seminar pages