According to the Criminal Code, an organised criminal group is a group that consists of at least three people who cooperate to commit serious crimes.
The most visible manifestation of organised criminal groups are those that wear special insignia and whose activities are marked by the use of violence and the threat of violence.
Increasingly commonly structured as networks
In addition to hierarchical groups, organised criminal groups are increasingly commonly structured as networks and are able to modify their structure quickly, flexibly and according to the specific needs of the current situation. Their main goal is to maximise criminal proceeds, increasingly by engaging in activities that appear legal in addition clearly illegal activities. The activities of the groups operating in Finland has become more international as well.
According to police information, the number of organised criminal groups in Finland has increased in the past ten years. The National Bureau of Investigation estimates that there are approximately 90 groups operating in Finland with a total of approximately 900–1,000 members.
Groups mostly originate in Finland
In Finland, organised crime groups are mostly domestic in nature. However, their activities are increasingly international. Most organised crime groups work together with other groups, especially ones located in Russia and the Baltic countries.
Criminal motorcycle gangs landed in Finland during the late 1980s and early 1990s with the advent of internationalisation and easier movement. These gangs have continuously strengthened their positions and have spread across the country after the turn of the century. Currently, several gangs have sub-branches or other activities in all of the largest towns and cities. These kinds of criminal motorcycle gangs have spread quickly all over the Baltic region. It is significant that these groups consider themselves to exist outside the rules of organised society.
Criminal proceeds through frauds and scams in information networks
In addition to traditional organised criminal groups that use special insignia, organisations such as cross-border groups that engage in property crime are treated in legal practice as organised criminal groups, as defined in the Criminal Code. These groups may only exist for the time it takes to execute a single crime or a series of crimes.
Organised criminal groups make increasingly significant use of information networks in their criminal activities, particularly internationally. These activities take the form of various frauds or scams aimed at coercing private individuals or people within companies to pay sums of money. Even smaller sums can add up to large criminal proceeds due to the volume made possible by networks.
Combating organised crime
In addition to traditional crime prevention, the police also combat organised crime by means of administrative crime prevention. The goal of administrative crime prevention is to preemptively mitigate the damage done by crime through close cooperation with other authorities and public-sector actors.
In addition to this, Exit activities support members who are trying to separate from their group. Administrative crime prevention and Exit activities are the preemptive ways in which organised crime is combatted. From the perspective of society and individuals, preemptive methods are always more expedient and economical than investigating crimes after the fact.