A new study by Finland’s Police University College has found that frustration with the asylum system and living conditions, as well as cultural clashes among residents, are the main reasons for suspected crimes committed in reception centres across the country.
The research looked only at incidents involving asylum seekers which had come to the attention of police.
It found the most common incidents were assaults and intimidation. The next most common complaints involved property offenses, sexual offenses and offences against reception centres and their staff.
The report used data from 2016 which was recorded in the police information system where an asylum seeker was either the suspect or victim of a possible criminal act, and involved a total of 1565 reported incidents.
During that year, between 20,000 and 30,000 asylum seekers came to Finland.
“The reports reveal that [alleged] crime committed in reception centres are often based on cultural and religious disputes which cause problems between residents. A situation leading to assault can develop from a very trivial issue” says Police College researcher Suvi-Tuuli Mansikkamäki.
The research was carried out as officials try to better understand what leads to the incidents at reception centres, where most asylum seekers are sent for processing when they come to Finland.
One major factor was frustration with the asylum process itself, as well as misunderstandings between people from different countries and cultural backgrounds housed in close proximity to each other.
“Follow-up information is needed on offenses involving asylum seekers, for the benefit of public discussion, the public authorities, and asylum seekers” says senior researcher Kari Laitinen of the Police University College.
“People have a wide range of ideas and beliefs concerning immigration and asylum seekers in particular. The gathering of research data is therefore also justified on these grounds” he adds.