Police report “exceptionally peaceful” Vappu Eve

Around the country police forces say there were much fewer alarm calls or incidents than usual, and that people mostly heeded advice to stay inside.

Police officer stands in front of boarded-up Havis Amanda statue in Helsinki, 30th April 2020 / Credit: Helsinki Police

The National Police Board says that Vappu Eve was “exceptionally peaceful” throughout the country with few people gathering in public places, and members of the public following instructions to celebrate at home.

That’s in stark contrast to traditional Vappu Eve celebrations which brings tens of thousands of people to the streets for celebrations – especially with groups of old school friends who hold reunions at this time of year.

Police say this year there were just a few isolated incidents where officers had to get involved to break up small gatherings.

“In my 40-year police career there has not been such a peaceful Vappu Eve” says Inspector Ari Järvenpää from the National Police Board.

“It is a pleasant surprise how well the instructions and restrictions have been followed” he adds.

In Helsinki where the focal point of Vappu Eve celebrations is the Havis Amanda statue next to the Market Square, the fountain itself was boarded up in advance, and the area was quiet all evening.

Police say there were significantly fewer emergency calls on Thursday than usual; fewer assaults in public places; and fewer reports of domestic violence. Most alarm calls received by police forces involved noise complaints.

Random incidents around the country

Vappu Eve wasn’t totally quiet for officers on shift however.

In Tampere only a few dozen people stayed out in the parks, while in Jyväskylä more people were on the streets Thursday afternoon but not in large groups. In southeast Finland police broke up a group with more than ten people – adults and children – grilling in the park but they left when officers spoke to them.

In east Finland a total of three assaults were reported, which took place in private homes; while in Turku the parks, downtown area and Aura River were mostly empty although a number of fines were imposed for alcohol-related offenses. In southwest Finland police responded to reports of young people gathering in groups of 20 in Paimio and 50 in Naantali and Raisio. No fines were handed out and the groups dispersed after police officers spoke with them.

In Oulu the traditional places where people gather on Hupisaari was largely deserted all evening.

“It’s a pleasure to see how cleverly May Day has been celebrated” says Commissioner Jan Sormunen from Oulu Police.