Helsinki Police track motivations for violent crimes

Officers studied the statistics for left wing and right wing incidents in the capital during 2019.

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Helsinki Police Superintendent Jari Taponen, August 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Helsinki Police have been analysing the statistics from a year of violent crime incidents in the capital to figure out what motivates extremist attacks.

During 2019 police say there were 42 crimes committed in total, where violence or incitement to violence was motivated by ideology: 22 attributed to the extreme right; 17 attributed to the extreme left; and 3 attributed to religious reasons.

While there can often be several different motivating factors involved in violent confrontations, including interpersonal relations, alcohol or drug consumption, police say they are able to pinpoint a single reason in quite many cases.

“Violent extremism is a very marginal phenomenon in Helsinki” says Superintendent Jari Taponen from Helsinki Police.

“If we are talking about far right violent crime 22 cases, it’s very low number compared to the whole violence in Heslinki; and looking at the left as well, it’s very low numbers” he tells News Now Finland.

Right wing violence

Taking a look at right wing violence, there were 16 incidents of abuse; 5 incidents of incitement against an ethnic group, and 1 case of persecution identified by the police during 2019.

Superintendent Taponen says there is often some kind of tension or build-up to these crimes taking place, but there can be random incidents too.

“On the right there were four assaults, like street fights or street assaults committed by skinheads. They randomly selected the victims, who were minorities. But only four. And that’s quite a normal number from what we’ve seen in previous years” Taponen explains.

Left wing violence 

When it comes to violence committed by people on the far left, Taponen notes that the attacker and victim often know each other, and incidents are likely to happen when they meet up.

“Normally it is during demonstrations” explains Taponen.

“There is already tension between the offender and the victim, and when they see each other there is conflict, maybe provocation and then some assaults. We can say that’s quite typical for crimes on the left” he explains.

The Superintendent reiterates that crime numbers for extremist-related incidents are very low in Helsinki and that there are no big trends; however he says there could be more research focus on this area of criminology to see what the situation is like in other parts of Finland.

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