Finnish Security Intelligence Service
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Emblem of Finnish police
|Preceding Agency||Valtiollinen Poliisi|
|Jurisdiction||Republic of Finland|
|Headquarters||Ratakatu 12, Helsinki|
|Minister responsible||Päivi Räsänen, Interior Minister|
|Agency executive||Ilkka Salmi, Director-general|
|Parent agency||National Police Board|
The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Finnish: Suojelupoliisi ("Protection Police"), abbreviated Supo, Swedish: Skyddspolisen) is the intelligence agency of Finland in charge of national security. The agency's staff is composed of 220 policemen with additional training. It specialises in preventing security threats and participates in protecting the parliamentary democracy as well as protecting the nation's security interests. Formerly Finnish Security Police, on August 27, 2010, the agency changed its English name thereby removing the word police. This was done to mark the continuing change of the agency's mission away from the area of traditional police responsibilities, towards international security intelligence duties.
Supo was formed in 1949 to replace its predecessor, Valtiollinen poliisi ("State Police"). In the aftermath of World War II the leadership positions of Valpo had been filled by communists, and some of its activities were found erroneous and illegal by an investigation committee. Valpo's predecessor was Etsivä keskuspoliisi, which was very effective in counter-intelligence and infiltration of communist organisations. It was formed from the passport bureau of the General Staff in 1919.
The bureau's central duties include counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence, preventing internal security threats within the nation, pre-emptive security work and guard work. It also participates in cracking down on international crime and provides expert services for industrial counter-intelligence and personal background checks. For example, refugees are investigated by Supo to determine whether or not they are under persecution in their home country, and Finnish corporations may request assistance in the prevention of industrial espionage. The most directly relevant function to an ordinary civilian is that Supo conducts background checks and gives security clearances to job applicants. The clearance is often required for government jobs and some private-sector jobs. However, the military conducts its own checks.
Supo does not have special tactical units. These duties are handled by the Karhu Team, the special duties unit of the Finnish police. Until 1989, Supo did not even have all police powers such as the power to start investigations; in a case that would require prosecution, they were required to request assistance from Keskusrikospoliisi. The right to arrest and investigate was granted in 1989.
- Official website of Supo (in English)