Hate crimes remain a problem in Finland and the police are asking for more investments in education and resources to better identify and prevent them.
Although the total amount of reported hate crimes decreased significantly in 2018, still 910 reports of offences classified as hate crimes were recorded through the country. This figure is 22% less than in 2017, but still high to lower the guard. Hate crime reports are now at the level of the period that preceded its peak in 2015, which coincided with the arrival of thousands of asylum seekers.
Hate crimes were classified according to motive in the Police University College’s research. As before, the majority of the hate crime reports in 2018 included features related to ethnic or national background. Assault was the most common type of crime.
Source: Poliisi/Finnish Police.
Crimes related to sexual orientation increased
Last year, Finnish police recorded 634 reports of suspected hate crimes related to ethnic or national background, which is also 22% less than in 2017. In these cases, assault was the most common type of crime. Of the reports of offence related to ethnic or national background, 12% targeted a person of Roma background. In these reports, the most common type of crime was defamation.
Suspected hate crimes related to religion or belief decreased by 34% compared to the year before. The police recorded 155 reports of offence for these types of hate crimes, and approximately one third of them targeted Islam or Muslims, the Police informed.
The only type of hate crime reports that increased last year was the one related to sexual orientation. There were a total of 61 such reports made, which is 27% more than in 2017.
Only 20% of victims reported
In addition to the committed crimes, the number of police reports for hate crimes may be affected by people’s willingness to report the suspected offence to the police. According to research, only approximately 20 percent of hate crime victims report the crime to the police or some other party.
The number of police reports for hate crimes may also be affected by the police’s investment in identifying and preventing hate crimes as well as acknowledging the hate crime motive in pre-trial investigations.
In 2017, the increase in hate crimes was explained in large part by the cases regarding ethnic agitation recorded by the Helsinki Police Department’s Hate Speech Investigation Team. Now, the number of recorded reports of offence for these crimes decreased to less than one fourth compared to the year before.
In addition, police itself marked with a hate crime code only approximately one fourth of the cases classified as hate crime in the 2018 report, whereas the year before, the number was 39%. "Thus, there continues to be a need for hate crime related education and for investment in the identification and prevention of hate crimes," police said.
The number of suspected hate crimes has been monitored by the Police University College to the present extent since 2008. Hate crimes statistics are based on national police report data.