Law enforcement in Finland

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The sword insignia of Finnish police.
A Finnish police van featuring vanity plates promoting the common European emergency telephone number 1-1-2
Helsinki Police Department's patrol boat, Ville 3 (designation 493), speeding away.
Finnish motorcycle police.
Finnish mounted police.
Finnish police car.

Law enforcement in Finland is the responsibility of several agencies. The Police (Finnish: poliisi, Swedish: polisen), a national police agency, is responsible for most tasks.[1] The two other main agencies are the Border Guard (Finnish: rajavartiolaitos, Swedish: gränsbevakningsväsendet) and the customs service (Finnish: tulli, Swedish: tull). Other agencies with limited police powers are the Finnish Defence Forces, municipal parking inspectors, and some railway staff.

The Police are divided into eleven regional police services and two national services. The national agencies are the Central Criminal Police (Finnish: keskusrikospoliisi, KRP), which is a national investigation unit[2] and the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Finnish: suojelupoliisi, Swedish: skyddspolisen) which specializes in "the prevention of security threats of the State,"[3] such as counterintelligence and terrorism.

Local police departments[edit]

The national police is the only police agency in Finland. The police is divided into police departments, which encompass the area of multiple municipalities or cities; municipalities do not have police forces of their own. The function of each district police department is to maintain general law and order, prevent crime, investigate crime and other events that threaten public order and safety, to carry out traffic control and surveillance and promote traffic safety, and perform all other duties prescribed by law or otherwise assigned to the police in their area. Local police departments are organized into uniformed patrol police (järjestyspoliisi, literally "order police") and criminal investigation police (rikospoliisi, literally "criminal police").

Local police also processes licenses and permits such as gun licenses, national ID cards and passports, and furthermore, enforces immigration decisions by the Finnish Immigration Service. Local police is must also be notified when organizing public events that may significantly influence local public security and traffic. Driving licenses have been issued by the local police, but from 2016, driving licenses will be issud by Trafi (Finnish Transport Safety Agency).[4]

Alarm services are operated by Emergency Response Centres managed by the Ministry of the Interior in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.[5]

The National Traffic Police (Liikkuva poliisi, literally "Mobile Police") was folded into the local police in 2013, thus local police is also responsible for highway patrol. Originally, local police districts were very small and had limited resources, so a separate mobile police organization was founded for riot control, alcohol law enforcement and reserve force duties, later evolving into a highway patrol. However, because of mergers, local police departments had become larger. Thus, the separate national organization was deemed redundant and traffic police units were subordinated to the local police departments instead, without change in the actual number of highway patrol officers.

Public Order Act[edit]

On October 1, 2003, the Public Order Act went into effect, standardizing public ordinances throughout the country.[6]

National police agencies[edit]

The Central Criminal Police (Finnish: Keskusrikospoliisi, KRP, Swedish: Centralkriminalpolisen, CKP) is responsible for major criminal investigations and certain types of specialist services such as fingerprint recognition. In English it uses the title "National Bureau of Investigation" in mimicry of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. The KRP was formed in 1954 to assist the country's other police elements in efforts against crime, particularly that of a serious or deeply rooted nature.[7] A special concern of the KRP is white-collar crime. To carry out its mission, the force has advanced technical means at its disposal, and it maintains Finland's fingerprint and identification files. In addition to working with local police forces, the KRP operates independently throughout the country.[7]

The "Protection Police" or "Finnish Security Intelligence Service" is responsible for national security and the investigation of related crimes. (Finnish: Suojelupoliisi, SUPO, Swedish: Skyddspolisen (Skypo))

Other nationally active formations[edit]

Karhu Team (Finnish karhuryhmä, literally bear team) is a specialized armed response unit. It is officially part of Helsinki regional service, but it is available as for use all around Finland.

In June 2008, the Finnish police established a Police Incident Response Team tasked with improving the prevention, detection and management of serious information security incidents.[8]

Police ranks[edit]

The Finnish police uses the following ranks:[9][10][11]

Class Patrol police Criminal investigation Supo English Other
Rank and file Nuorempi konstaapeli (none) Junior Constable Instructor (kouluttaja)
Vanhempi konstaapeli Vanhempi rikoskonstaapeli Etsivä Senior Constable / Detective -
Non-commissioned officer Ylikonstaapeli Vanhempi rikosylikonstaapeli Ylietsivä Sergeant (lit. Superior Constable) / Detective Sergeant Teacher
Officers Komisario Rikostarkastaja Tarkastaja Inspector (lit. commissary)
Ylikomisario Rikosylitarkastaja Ylitarkastaja Chief Inspector Head of Licence Services (lupapalvelutoimiston toimistonjohtaja)
Poliisitarkastaja Osastopäällikkö Superintendent Police Attorney (poliisilakimies), Head of Administration (hallinto-osaston johtaja)
Apulaispoliisipäällikkö - - Assistant Police Chief -
- Poliisiylitarkastaja, apulaispoliisipäällikkö (KRP) Apulaispäällikkö Deputy Police Chief / Chief Superintendent Deputy Police Chief of Helsinki
Poliisipäällikkö - - Police Chief -
Poliisijohtaja Päällikkö (KRP) Päällikkö Assistant/Deputy National Police Commissioner Helsinki Police Chief, Rector of Police College
Poliisiylijohtaja National Police Commissioner -

Criminal investigators prefix their ranks with rikos-, "Detective", literally "Criminal", e.g. rikostarkastaja.

Rank insignia on the shoulder epaulettes is all silver on blue with a silver button. The rank insignia for Senior Constable is a single bar, added with two chevrons for Sergeant. Police officers have bordered rows of oak leaves, with a Lion of Finland next to them. Additionally, on the collar there is pentagonal insignia that always has the emblem with laurel leaves and a border, but with colors slightly varying with rank; officers have a border around the pentagon.

Finnish military ranks as in the Finnish Army are also used by the Finnish Border Guard, but with some differences. The conscript rank of Private is rajajääkäri. Career border guards are NCOs that serve in the ranks of nuorempi rajavartija (~kersantti) and vanhempi rajavartija (~ylikersantti) ("Junior" and "Senior Border Guard", respectively), and there are two higher ranks, ylirajavartija and rajavartiomestari ("Supervisor Border Guard" and "Master Border Guard"), corresponding to vääpeli and sotilasmestari.



The most common vehicle of police in Finland is Volkswagen Transporter, usually with 2.5 l diesel engines. In 2002 about one third of Finnish police cars were Transporters.[13] Transporters are also used by border guards, customs, and sotilaspoliisi (military police). Due to the bilingualism of the country, the right side of the vehicles is marked in Finnish language (POLIISI), the left side is marked in Swedish language (POLIS).

Current vehicles of the Finnish police[edit]

Marked police motorcycles are usually either BMW K1200 RS or Yamaha FJR 1300 models. Unmarked motorcycles are Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace- and Yamaha YZF-R1 models. Motorcycles are used in pursuit situations.

Finnish police also operates snowmobiles, water scooters and boats.[14] Helsinki police has a horse-riding unit.

Other agencies[edit]

The Finnish Border Guard have police powers in border zones; likewise, Finnish Customs have police powers when dealing with arriving persons and goods. Municipal parking inspectors, train conductors and ticket inspectors have limited police powers. The military has very limited police powers, mainly for internal investigation of military crimes and guarding military facilities. The Ministry of the Interior may give police powers for a specific task and to the degree necessary.

Customs and Border Guards[edit]

Finnish police, customs and Border Guard have close inter-agency cooperation.

Customs and Border Guard also perform some law enforcement functions, mainly concerned with goods (Customs) and persons (Border Guard) crossing Finland's borders. Within their fields of work, the Customs and Border Guard officers have most police powers. In the Customs, the power to arrest is delegated to the level of senior customs inspectors. In the Border Guard, the power to arrest is delegated to the level of border control detachments commander.[15] The Customs may utilize all investigative police powers, with the exception of the use of deep-cover personnel and sting operations.[16] The Border Guard may use almost all investigative powers. The Customs also occasionally enforces laws such as fuel taxes and vehicle traffic-worthiness, without connection to imported goods.

Finnish Defence Forces[edit]

The Finnish Defence Forces have provost duties and jurisdiction over guarding military installations. The Defence Forces also have the right to investigate all military crimes and most crimes committed by service-men against non-civilians. In addition, the Defence Forces have the right to conduct counter-espionage and counter-sabotage activities related to the national defence. However, Suojelupoliisi conducts actual criminal investigations of state-security-related crimes also within the Defence Forces. Military unit commanders have the jurisdiction over the investigations of minor infractions.[17][18]

The power to arrest is delegated to company commander level. More serious crimes are investigated, by the investigative section of the Finnish Defence Command or by the military attorneys of lower command levels. Security-related military police activities and all technical surveillance activities are carried out by the investigative section of the Defence Command. The Defence Forces do not have the right to conduct wiretaps or other forcible measures against Finnish civilian telecommunications.[17][18]

Finnish Defence Forces armored vehicle with police markings during a law enforcement support operation in response to a dangerous situation.

The police may request assistance in performing their duties from the Defence Forces or other agencies, when special equipment or competency is required. The operation remains under the command of the police. Military units (brigades) usually keep a company under readiness for assistance at all times; the turn rotates among companies and requires them to forego regular leave. In practice, the Defence Forces have assisted in disposal of explosives, provided Pasi armored vehicles for operations against heavily armed suspects in e.g. the Kauhajoki shooting, and conscript manpower for search of missing persons in terrain and in handling of the 2015 refugee crisis.[19]


PTR (poliisi, tulli ja rajavartiolaitos) is a scheme for cooperation between the police, customs and border guard. In a PTR patrol, there is a patrol from two of the agencies, for instance two officers from customs and two from police, who then get acquainted with each other's tasks and expertise. Another form of PTR cooperation is in criminal intelligence.

Voluntary support[edit]

The Finnish police is supported by two voluntary organisations: Vapepa, the voluntary rescue service (Finnish: Vapaaehtoinen pelastuspalvelu), and the SRVA, the assistance organisation for large game situations (Finnish: suurriistavirka-apu). Neither organisation uses police powers during assistance missions.

The most typical support mission for the Vapepa is a search mission. The organisation is composed of volunteers trained in the search of missing persons, who can be alerted by the local police for a search with a reasonably short response time.[20] For example, in a recent case, the person was reported missing at 4 PM, the Vapepa search operation started with 42 volunteers at 7 PM, and continued at 7 AM the following morning, after being stopped at 4 AM, with more than 100 volunteers.[21][22] In addition, the Vapepa may support police in communications or first-response logistics and psychological care.[23]

The SRVA is a voluntary activity organised by the semi-governmental hunting district associations (Finnish: riistanhoitoyhdistys). The SRVA personnel are experienced hunters trained for police assistance, and they provide hounds and armed hunters to track and euthanise large game that has been wounded in a traffic accident or that polixce has decided to euthanise to prevent danger to human safety.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Finnish Police official in English. Retrieved 5 Sep 2007
  2. ^ KRP official in English Retrieved 14 May 2007
  3. ^ Supo official in English Retrieved 5 Sep 2007
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Public Order Act Retrieved 19 May 2007
  7. ^ a b Text from PD source: US Library of Congress: A Country Study: Finland, Library of Congress Call Number DL1012 .A74 1990.
  8. ^ "Finnish police sets up IRT". 2008-06-23. ISSN 1797-1993. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ [1] Retrieved 13 April 2013
  13. ^ [2] Retrieved 26 March 2014
  14. ^ [3] Retrieved 26 March 2014
  15. ^ Pakkokeinolaki (450/1987), 6§. Retrieved 2010-02-15. (Finnish)
  16. ^ Tullilaki (466/1999). 43§ Retrieved 2010-02-15. (Finnish)
  17. ^ a b Laki poliisin tehtävien suorittamisesta puolustusvoimissa (1251/1995). Retrieved 2010-02-15. (Finnish)
  18. ^ a b Sotilaskurinpitolaki (331/1983), Chapter 4. Retrieved 2010-02-15. (Finnish)
  19. ^
  20. ^ Etsintä. Vapaaehtoinen pelastuspalvelu. Retrieved 2015-10-20. (Finnish)
  21. ^ Posiolla massiivinen etsintäoperaatio kadonneen 10-vuotiaan löytämiseksi. Yle 2015-10-18. Retrieved 2015-10-20. (Finnish)
  22. ^ Posion etsintä 17. 18.10.2015. Vapepa 2015-10-20. Retrieved 2015-10-20. (Finnish).
  23. ^ Osaavien auttajien verkosto. Vapaaehtoinen pelastuspalvelu. Retrieved 2015-10-20. (Finnish)
  24. ^ Suurriistavirka-apu (SRVA). Finnish Ministry of Agricuilture and Forestry. Retrieved 2015-10-20. (Finnish).

External links[edit]

Media related to Law enforcement in Finland at Wikimedia Commons