Friday 9/17/21
SECURITY

Police warn of worsening security if government enforces budget cap

Police chiefs ask in a statement for a debate on how valuable - or cheap - security is in Finland
Police-officers-in-Helsinki-centrum-by-@HelsinkiPoliisi
Police officers in downtown Helsinki. Photo: Twitter/@HelsinkiPoliisi.

Finnish police have issued an alert due to the possibility that the five-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) will limit its budget for next year.

The National Police Board complained on Tuesday that the budget allocated for 2022 is 35-40 million euros less than expected. Without sufficient resources, the men and women who work for the safety of all Finnish residents will not be able to maintain the current level of operations and even criminal investigations will suffer.

"Without financing, the police will be facing adjustment measures in all operations and units," explained the National Police Board in a statement.

"The budget decisions are out of line with the expectations of the police," says National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen, for whom this is a value judgment on "whether or not we want to address security."

The National Police Board says it has made calculations about the adjustment needed to accommodate the budget deficit. According to these calculations, it would be necessary to cut personnel equivalent to the work carried out annually by 450 employees.

The police chiefs say they are concerned about the consequences that this would have on the staff, who are already "overloaded because of a huge workload and changes in job requirements."

Urgent threats

Although it is still early to assess what the consequences would mean at the police unit level, the lack of funds would be perceived in all police operations. It would affect police visibility and response times throughout Finland, particularly in sparsely populated areas, control of public order and security, road traffic control and criminal investigations.

"At the strategic level, the police would increasingly have to focus on tackling essential and urgent threats to life and health," emphasizes the National Police Board.

“I call for a debate on how valuable – or cheap – security is priced. Mere talks or promises are not enough, also concrete acts are required. We cannot afford to weaken security, but that’s where we’re heading with these decisions. How secure do we want to keep Finland?, Kolehmainen asks.

The adjustment plan will become clear once the final level of appropriations is known after the government budget session in early September.

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