New proposals for maximum police response times in cities, countryside

By the end of 2023 the new plan would see officers responding to the most urgent calls in cities within 11 minutes, and in rural areas within 55 minutes - 80% of the time.

File picture of police officer in Helsinki, June 2018 / Credit: News Now Finland

The National Police Board is proposing new maximum response times for officers on call-outs, depending on which part of the country the 112 emergency call is received.

The shortest times would be set at 11 minutes in large cities, and 55 minutes in rural areas for the most urgent category of alerts, and police would have to be on site within the maximum time limit 80% of the time.

“The security of the population at regional level consists on the one hand, of the extent to which people experience crime and disruption and, on the other hand, of the speed with which assistance is available in the event of such incidents” explains Police Chief Seppo Kolehmainen.

“The equal status of the entire population in emergency services means that these are in an acceptable balance across the country” he adds.

The Police Board working group notes that there are big variations in the operational readiness between cities and municipalities depending on their operating environments.

The new report also makes it clear that more resources will be needed to meet the response time especially in parts of the country with fewer inhabitants, and it could cost up to €8 million per year to provide extra police officers in Lapland, Eastern Finland, Oulu and Ostrobothnia.

However, if other tasks are hived off to a separate unit – such as transporting prisoners – then it could free up valuable time for officers to get on with core work and meeting the new response targets.

The minimum response times should come into force across the country by the end of 2023 the working group says, but the interior ministry will first evaluate all the proposals.

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) told reporters on Thursday that this issue will be on the agenda for the upcoming autumn budget talks, and while the government has already committed to increasing police numbers, Ohisalo cautions that all the reforms won’t happen in just one term of government.