Helsinki Police Department reprimanded for Roma control practice

Publication date 4.6.2021 12.55
News item

The National Police Board of Finland reprimanded the Helsinki Police Department in an issue involving controls of the Roma. The criticism relates to the prevention and information collection operation named KURI1 of the mid-2010s, particularly targeted at the Roma population.

Once the Police Board became aware of the practice, it decided to initiate an autonomous legality control investigation, with the objective to understand whether the project has violated against the ban of ethnic profiling.

According to the Police Board, instructions of the operation, with quite general guidelines, were problematic. 

- A practice only targeted at one population group cannot constitute part of normal Police operations. Operations of this kind must always be underpinned by information management, concrete phenomena and ongoing investigations. Individual rights must never be intervened with if only based on their ethnic background, Assistant Police Commissioner Pekka-Matias Väisänen of the National Police Board points out. 

In issuing its decision based on the information obtained, the Police Board found that the practice following the instructions issued by the Helsinki Police Department had, as such, justifying grounds as required by the Non-Discrimination Act. 

- In other words, the operations were based on law and regulations, and as a premise, it had an acceptable objective and the means adopted by the Police officers to reach the objective seem to have been proportionate, Assistant Police Commissioner Väisänen adds. 

According to him, the information obtained does not suggest that the practice would constitute discrimination based on ethnic background. 

- Although the choice of the individuals as targets of the measures was influenced by their presumed ethnic origins, this has not been the only or determining reason for the measure to be taken.

In its decision, the Police Board has drawn the Helsinki Police Department’s attention to the need to respect the aspects of non-discrimination and ethnic profiling ban in all Police operations.

As reported by the Helsinki Police Department, this was an operation run in the years 2013-2015, related to the unrest between Roma families. The project was motivated by several life and health threatening crimes between Finnish Roma families, brought to the knowledge of the Police within a short period of time.  It was characteristic of these crimes that they involved the use of firearms. Shootings and other acts of violence often took place in public places so that the life and health of outsiders were also jeopardised.