The National Police Board has released its figures on crimes committed in 2019. These numbers, which do not include all criminal law offences, still show a general increase in the number of crimes committed by both locals and foreigners. In the case of foreigners, the rise is particularly pronounced in robberies and fraud.
In the absence of a more scientific analysis of the total crime data, which should be carried out by Statistics Finland and should include, for example, traffic offences, customs and border offences, police figures give an idea of the state of security in the country.
Overall, Finnish society experienced a 4% increase in the number of crimes last year, with severe growth in drug-related offences (14%) and sexual offences (15%). In 2019, a total of 334,796 offences came to the knowledge of the police nationwide. This is approximately 4% or 13,500 offences more than in 2018.
Crimes committed by foreigners
In the specific case of foreigners, Police say criminality has "increased slightly." The number of criminal law violations in which the suspect is a foreign national increased by approximately 4% in 2019. The total number of offences was approximately 23,672, which is more than 1,000 more than in 2018.
But the proportion of foreign suspects in cases of robbery and fraud has risen significantly. The number of foreign suspects in cases of robbery has grown more than 50% and 40% in cases of fraud. Property crimes are often linked to professional crime, the National Board of Police say.
The number of sex crimes in which the suspect is a foreign national remained approximately the same as in 2018. In narcotics offences, the number of foreign suspects decreased.
Narcotics and sex offences
According to statistics, narcotics offences and sex offences have seen a particularly severe increase in Finland. Approximately 14% more aggravated narcotics offences and approximately 15% more sexual offences came to the knowledge of the police in 2019 than in the previous year.
Police, who prefer to see the glass half full, attributed part of that increase to their own merits when fighting crime: "Statistical increase in narcotics offences is partially a testament to the effective investigation and surveillance methods of the police, particularly in the case of aggravated narcotics offences. On the other hand, it is also telling of the wide-spread nature of the phenomenon," the National Police Board says in its statement.
“Narcotics and various degrees of mixing alcohol and narcotics are often in the background of many incidents such as disorderly conduct and various offences against life, health and property. Increased narcotics use also has an inevitable impact on traffic safety, which is seen particularly as narcotics-related cases of driving while intoxicated,” National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen says.
Homicides and burglaries dropped
Homicides and burglaries are the offences that have seen the greatest percentage decrease since the previous year.
In 2019, a total of 74 homicides were committed, whereas the previous year saw 88 homicides. That is a decrease of more than 15%. The downwards trend in the number of homicides has been evident for a long time, Police say.
However, the number of most types of theft cases increased in 2019.
The elderly as victims of fraudsters
The number of fraud cases reported to the police grew by approximately 13%, or by more than 4,200 incidents.
The number of internet-based fraud cases grew proportionally more, increasing by over 21%. There were more than 2,600 offences of this nature, meaning that a significant portion of the increase in fraud cases was the result of internet-based crimes.
“Many of the growing number of fraud crimes are directed at the elderly, meaning people who are 65 years of age or older. They have been scammed in different ways, including prying for PIN codes in association with card purchases, followed by the theft and criminal use of the card in question at cash dispensers and other places to steal the money from their accounts,” Seppo Kolehmainen says.
Number of police officers grew less than 1%
In 2019, the police’s total number of staff grew by 173 (1.7%) in comparison to the previous year. Of those, 72 were police officers, making the proportional increase from the previous year slightly less than 1%. At the end of last year, the police had 7,390 officers.
The Government Programme has committed to increasing the number of police officers to 7,500 by the end of the programme’s term.
The average investigation time of criminal offences increased by about 5% in comparison to 2018.
"Insufficient investigative resources, the internationalization of crime and advantages in technology make it challenging to conduct long investigations," National Police Board Commissioner Kolehmainen explains.