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Internal supervision ensures the quality of police work

Internal supervision ensures the quality of police work

Internal monitoring is one of the work tasks of everyone working for the Police. Internal monitoring involves everyday procedures and ways of acting aimed at securing operational legality and productivity.

Through internal supervision, we strive to prevent and uncover mistakes, oversights and misconduct. It must include not only the agency’s own operations, but also activities that the agency has responsibility for under legislation, agreements and other obligations. 

Risk control is used to support internal monitoring. Risk control refers to a method that is systematically employed by police force members to identify and evaluate risks, to initiate necessary procedures and to monitor results while adhering to the principle of continuous development.

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Managerial duties are the most common form of internal supervision

There are no separate staff members dedicated to internal monitoring. Instead, monitoring is internally linked to agency-level procedural chains, and it is continuously carried out by Police employees, all of whom are dedicated to their own roles.

Each officer must adhere to the rules, instructions, ways of conduct and level of authorisation specified in relation to operations and administration.

The organisation of internal monitoring is overseen by the upper management of the agency and department, who is also responsible for its suitability and sufficiency.  

The organisation must have systematic and timely internal supervision in place, and that supervision must be continuous. 

Internal auditing

The task of internal auditing is directed at the internal monitoring of operations taking place at the level of the entire police organisation, risk control, and processes related to management and administration. The agency and department management must organise an internal audit if there is a justifiable need for it on the basis of internal management procedures. The purpose of internal auditing is to assess the appropriateness and sufficiency of internal monitoring, and to carry out inspection tasks ordered by the management.

Internal auditing is a procedure that supports organisational management. Internal auditing is carried out by a dedicated unit operating as part of the National Police Board, under the command of the National Police Commissioner. Internal auditing can target all police operations and police units. 

Regulations concerning the status and procedures related to internal auditing are specified in the National Police Board internal auditing directive.

Control of legality 

Legality control is targeted internal supervision with the purpose of monitoring the legality of actions taken by authorities. 

The mission of the National Police Board is to plan, develop, manage and supervise police activities and their support functions within police departments and the police’s national units.

Every agency of the Ministry of the Interior’s administrative branch is responsible for their own legality control and organising the supervision of the legality of their own activities and field of activity. 

The police’s legality control is outlined in the National Police Board’s legality control instructions. The National Police Board, fulfilling the role of supreme police command, is responsible for the police’s legality control as the controlling, commanding and supervising unit. 

The head of a police unit is responsible for organising legality control and allocating resources to it within their unit. 

Forms of legality control

The central forms of police legality control are

  • legality control inspections;
  • processing administrative complaints, letters from the public and internal reviews; and
  • supervising the processing of personal data. 

For the purposes of supporting the decision making of police management, legality control produces accurate and sufficient information that is as up-to-date as possible about the legality of officials’ activities. Legality control attempts to prevent errors before they take place. Its objective is also to initiate proceedings to address erroneous or illegal activity in as timely a manner as possible.  

Internal legality control is focused on activities that are more difficult for external controls to access and address and on matters related to the realisation of fundamental and human rights. 

Internal legality control is not punitive in nature. However, illegal conduct must always be intervened in and the matter investigated in the appropriate scope. If necessary, procedures to investigate suspected illegal conduct must be initiated under civil service law or criminal law. No pre-trial investigations or measures involving the application of law are carried out in the administration’s internal legality control.

Compliance audits

Regular audits based on annual plans are conducted in police units by the National Police Board’s legality control unit. Material regarding each subject of the audit is requested from the units that are being audited, and experts from the units in question are also heard individually during the audit.

Judicial units

Police departments have units dedicated to judicial matters (judicial units) that are under the command of the Police Chief, and which are responsible for carrying out judicial matters at police departments and in legality-related monitoring. 

The judicial units of police units carry out a significant number of legality inspections every year. 

Supervision of intelligence gathering

Secret methods of gathering intelligence have been the focus of the police’s internal legality control for years. This is due to their nature: they interfere with the protection of privacy, which is a central and fundamental right of Finnish citizens, and the targeted person is typically not aware of the intelligence gathering until it has already been conducted. 

The National Police Board’s legality control unit conducts an annual review of police intelligence gathering and its surveillance for the Ministry of the Interior. The review contains both public and classified sections. 

Complaints procedure

Administrative complaints are an established concept and a form of redress related to legality control. An administrative complaint is a notification or denunciation addressed to an official in a higher management position regarding the erroneousness of an official act or the neglectful conduct of an official. 

The National Police Board processes and settles administrative complaints that regard 

  • National Police Board employees,
  • the highest management of police units,
  • more than one police unit or
  • matters that are significant in principle. 

The head of the police unit or an official appointed by them settles complaints lodged against officials of their unit unless, because of incompetency due to the likelihood of bias or other justified reasons, it is more appropriate for them to be settled by the National Police Board. 

The National Police Board can take over the processing of a pending administrative complaint from a police unit if doing so is justified by the nature of the matter. Each police unit processes any administrative complaints and letters from the public addressed to it. The National Police Board may transfer the processing of an administrative complaint or a letter from the public to the relevant police unit if, on the aforementioned grounds, it does not fall under the National Police Board’s remit.

Contents of an administrative complaint

Administrative complaints should be made in writing. A complaint can also be lodged by a person who is not party to the matter subject to the complaint. In such cases, the processing of the issue will be conducted while taking into account the fact that confidential information may not be disclosed to persons who are not party to the matter subject to the complaint. 

A complaint shall include 

  • the complainant’s name, 
  • contact information and
  • the necessary information regarding the matter subject to the complaint. 

If an administrative complaint is insufficiently specified, the complainant may be requested to provide additional information.

You may use the form below to lodge an administrative complaint.

  • Administrative complaint form

The Administrative Procedure Act contains further information about the lodging and processing of administrative complaints, administrative guidance issued due to administrative complaints and prohibition of request for review.

Submitting an administrative complaint

Complaints can be sent to the police by mail or email. 

  1. If your complaint concerns an official working at a specific police department, please submit your complaint to the department in which said official works or in which the erroneous action took place. 
     
  2. If your complaint concerns an official working in a national police unit (such as the National Bureau of Investigation or Police University College), please submit your complaint to the national unit in which said official works or in which the erroneous action took place. 
     
  3. If your complaint concerns more than one police unit, a specific police chief, the head of a national police unit or an official belonging to the National Police Board, please submit your complaint to the National Police Board by mail at the address National Police Board, PO Box 22, 00521 Helsinki or by email to [email protected].

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Processing and investigation of administrative complaints

The processing of administrative complaints is free of charge.

Your complaint will be investigated if the authority processing the complaint considers there to be sufficient grounds to suspect that illegal or erroneous actions have occurred. 

If necessary, the official subject to the complaint will be requested to submit an account, and their superior will be requested to provide a statement in response to the complaint. The complainant may also be requested to provide a rejoinder regarding the matter. 

A written response to the complaint will be given. It will be sent to the complainant and the subject of the complaint.

Anonymous complaints are not investigated without a special reason. Furthermore, complaints regarding actions that took place more than two years previous are also not investigated without a special reason. 

The period of limitation begins when the official action subject to complaint occurs, but the time at which the complainant was made aware of a relevant decision or measure may also have an effect. The period of limitation is not unconditional. However, matters that occurred more than five years previous will generally not be processed.

Consequences of administrative complaints and prohibition of appeal

If it is found that the subject of the complaint has conducted themselves in a reprehensible manner in the matter, the authority processing the complaint may inform the subject of their views on the subject’s erroneous actions or, depending on the seriousness of the error or neglect, issue a warning to the authority or official in question.

An administrative action or decision that is subject to an administrative complaint cannot be changed or overthrown with an administrative complaint. The supervising authority cannot directly rectify errors detected in official actions and cannot usually compel the subject of an administrative complaint to take specific actions.

The Administrative Procedure Act stipulates that a decision made in an administrative complaint procedure cannot be appealed by lodging a complaint.

The number of complaints has remained steady

In 2019, a total of approximately 650 complaints regarding police conduct were lodged with the National Police Board and police units. No significant change in the number of complaints has occurred in comparison to previous years. 

The majority of complaints, as has been the case in previous years, have been in regard to pre-trial investigations and decisions made therein. In these cases, the complainant is usually dissatisfied that a pre-trial investigation has not been conducted or that it has been concluded without elevating the matter to consideration of charges. The duration of the pre-trial investigation has also been the subject of a number of complaints. 

Other complaint subjects have included public order and security operations and police conduct that has been perceived as inappropriate. 

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Crimes in which a police officer is suspected of being a perpetrator

When a police officer is suspected of having perpetrated a crime, it is investigated by a special arrangement described in the Criminal Investigation Act. In these cases, the prosecutor acts as the head investigator. 

If, in an administrative complaint procedure, it is suspected that a police officer has committed a crime, the police authority processing the matter must transfer the complaint procedure to the prosecutor, who will asses the necessity of a pre-trial investigation.

If you suspect that a police officer has committed a crime, you can file a report of an offence with the police. The report will generally be forwarded without delay to the Prosecutor General’s office via the investigating police unit for the purposes of conducting a possible pre-trial investigation and appointing the head investigator. 

When a police officer is suspected of having committed a crime, the prosecutor has the sole authority to decide whether there is reason to suspect a crime has been committed and whether a pre-trial investigation will be conducted, unless the matter in question is to be processed in a summary penal fee procedure or fine procedure.

Further information on the pre-trial investigation of crimes in which a police officer is suspected of being a perpetrator can be found in the National Police Board’s instructions.

Further information on reporting an offence

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External monitoring

Among others, external monitoring of police operations is carried out by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Chancellor of Justice, The National Audit Office of Finland, and the Data Protection Ombudsman. 

An external examination of accounts carried out by the National Audit Office of Finland is used to provide an independent statement concerning the validity and sufficiency of accountability-related reporting. The Ministry of the Interior also monitors operations within its administrative branch.