The 2000sChanging laws and new procedures

DNA sampling kit. The DNA sample is reliable way of connecting a person to a crime scene. The sample taken from the scene is to include nucleated human cells. The result of the DNA analysis is compared with samples taken from suspects and with entries in a DNA database. Footprints, fibres, secretions, poisons and odours can also be analysed by forensic labs. The fast pace of development in the field requires investigators to keep their skills up-to-date through continuous education. The forensic laboratory of the National Bureau of Investigation, which analyses samples from all over the country, employs experts from more than twenty fields. Image: Police Museum / Emilia Anundi.

The Public Order Act of 2003 replaced municipal ordinances and the general public order regulations for rural areas adopted in 1928. The public consumption of alcohol in urban areas and public transportation was outlawed, and so was the purchase and offer of sexual services in public places. A renewed version of the Criminal Code of Finland was adopted in 2003. New crimes included distribution of depictions of violence and sexually offensive pictures, criminal disturbance, illegal wearing of a disguise, trafficking in human beings, child abduction, and stealing a motor vehicle for temporary use. Criminal gangs were explicitly outlawed.

Vandalism and drunk driving increased during the first decade of the 21st century. Drug-related crime, white-collar crime, international organised crime and terrorism were growing concerns for the police. International conferences and sports competitions hosted by Finland required the police to take special measures and educate experts to handle the necessary arrangements. Crowd control officers became known to the public during the protests on Independence Day in 2002 and before the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in 2006.

Although crime statistics as such did not point to disturbing trends, the visibility of crimes in media and online caused many people to feel less safe. As citizens used the internet daily, online bullying and fraud grew increasingly common. The Internet Police of the Helsinki Police Department was formed in 2007.

Particularly dangerous and challenging tasks required units with special training and equipment, so-called VATI teams. VATI-requiring situations include aggravated crimes (and threats thereof) directed against life, health, freedom, the environment or valuable, unique property. Other VATI situations include large-scale disturbances, armed criminals, serious accidents or threats thereof, and urgent searching for missing persons. If necessary, emergency care teams (TEMS), tactical negotiation teams (TANE) and other special teams (TEPO, JOUHA, Karhu) are called to the scene. All police departments have VATI teams of their own. Well-known VATI tasks in recent history include the bombing at the shopping centre Myyrmanni in Vantaa (2002), the school massacres in Jokela (2007) and Kauhajoki (2008) and the shooting incident at the shopping centre Sello in Espoo (2009). After the Kauhajoki massacre, the police received updated instructions on how to make decisions on gun permits.

The regionalisation of police administration led to certain functions being transferred from Helsinki to other parts of the country. The Data Centre was moved to Rovaniemi, the Police College to Tampere and the Technology Centre to Kuusankoski. Finland had 24 police departments in 2009.

The radio network Virve used by several authorities was introduced in 2003–2004. Major advantages of Virve included digital technology, encryption, nationwide coverage, mobile phone compatibility and seamless collaboration between the various authorities using the network.

In 2000, a training programme for fire dogs was initiated jointly by the Police Dog Training Centre and the National Bureau of Investigation. Fire dogs are trained to search for flammable liquids and traces thereof. When the dogs detect something, a sample is taken and sent to the forensic laboratory for analysis. Fire dogs are taught to detect a variety of flammable liquids.

Occasionally, the police informs the public in advance of upcoming roadside breathalyser tests. Some drivers are also subjected to quick tests for illicit drugs. Image: Sami Hätönen.

Urban bicycle constables increase the visibility of the police, enabling citizens to spontaneously approach the police for advice. Image: Sami Hätönen.

In addition to motorcycles, constables may patrol on scooters. Image: Sami Hätönen.

Constables sometimes have to kill animals that have been seriously injured in road accidents. Image: Sami Hätönen.

Headlines like "The winter took drivers by surprise” are common after the first snow of the winter. Police units must carry out their duties regardless of what the weather is like. Image: Sami Hätönen.

It is estimated that in the 21st century, half of all police work is concerned with intoxicated members of the public. Such tasks are particularly numerous during major holidays and summer events. Image: Sami Hätönen.

In 2002, the Police Department of the Ministry of the Interior organised a course for police officers interested in international civilian crisis management. Regions where this kind of help was needed included Kosovo, where Finnish police officers travelled in 2004 to participate in an international police operation with 3 500 participants from various countries. The purpose of this operation was to provide the police of Kosovo with a legacy of best practices in policing. Police officers from different countries did not, however, share an identical view on every aspect of policing, and participants in the joint effort therefore had to be willing to collaborate with colleagues from other backgrounds and understand cultural differences. Kosovan police and civilians alike considered the Finnish police to be trustworthy and unbiased. Image: Police Museum / Olli Sainio.

Disaster victim identification in Thailand, 2005. In case of major accidents, the victim identification work is led by the Victim Identification Unit of the National Bureau of Investigation. On Boxing Day in 2004, Finns received news about a giant tidal having suddenly devastated large areas around the Indian Ocean, including parts of Thailand where many Finns were spending their Christmas holiday. The Victim Identification Unit of the National Bureau of Investigation immediately started an operation for identifying and bringing home all Finns who had died. Some 50 experts from the Finnish authorities participated simultaneously in the operation in Thailand, and the same amount participated in the work taking place at home. According to first estimates, about 50 percent of the Finnish victims would be identified, but as it turned out, as many as 174 of the 179 victims eventually were. Image: Police Museum /Heikki Mattila.

Smash ASEM was a protest against the Asia-Europe Meeting of 2006. The protest was organised in Helsinki by local anarchists on 9.9.2006. The police arrested 136 protesters outside of the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art and surrounding areas. The arrests were motivated by preliminary information according to which Smash ASEM would not be a peaceful protest, but a riot. Furthermore, the efforts of the police to establish contact with the organisers had been unsuccessful. The media reported extensively on the protests. More than sixty complaints about the actions of the police were sent to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, and the Assistant Parliamentary Ombudsman issued four reprimands. The Helsinki Police Department, in turn, reported 86 of the protesters to be prosecuted for various crimes. Ultimately, the District Court of Helsinki sentenced 22 protesters to fines or a suspended prison sentence of up to six months for acts of violence, and 36 protesters were fined for other offences. Image: Sami Hätönen.

Forensic labs possess a wide range of expertise. These labs receive weapons, drugs, fibres, DNA samples, handwriting, gunpowder and false documents to be analysed. Image: Sami Hätönen.

Tactical emergency care teams consisting of healthcare professionals aid the police in demanding situations by giving injured people at the scene potentially lifesaving care. This kind of tactical emergency care is organised jointly by the healthcare authorities and the police, with the police ensuring the safety of the healthcare professionals. Image: Sami Hätönen.

The first internet police of the Helsinki Police Department. Their tasks included nationwide prevention and investigation of online crime. Image: Helsinki Police Department /Annika Sjöblom.

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