Police survey paints a grim picture of life on the beat

Officers say they're worn out, stressed, facing increased threats of violence and with insufficient pay.

File picture of Junior Constable Juho Mielonen, Helsinki 6th June 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

The results of a new survey paint a grim picture of the state of policing in Finland.

The Finnish Police Federation SPJL canvased 10,000 members and received more than 3,400 responses recording their thoughts on life as a police officer.

Seven out of 10 officers say they don’t have time to do their jobs properly; many said violence is increasingly common in field work; most cops experience fatigue and lack of proper management. More than half say their job satisfaction has declined in the last two years. And while the number of police officers is set to increase in the next few years, 85% of officers who answered the questionnaire said they don’t think this will be enough to guarantee the safety of people in Finland.

“I was surprised how fed up these people are” says Jonne Rinne, Chairman of the SPJL.

“These results don’t lie, and it’s more like proof of what we’ve been telling people for several years now”

“Officers are really frustrated. They feel the amount of work and expertise needed to accomplish their jobs has risen over the years, but at the same time the salary has been kept back. The salary doesn’t match the increased work load” Rinne adds.

File picture of Jonne Rinne, Chairman of the Finnish Police Federation SPJL / Credit: SPJL

Officers facing increased violence

The new study also highlighted the increased threat of violence that officers face while doing their jobs: 69% of respondents said they experienced violence during the last two years. More than half said occupational safety has been reduced.

One officer wrote that attempts had been made to kick them, spit at them, threaten to kill their families and find out their home address.

“Our police officers, who are sworn civil servants, they are not able to to their work as efficiently as they should and feel like they are letting down the people the are serving” Jonne Rinne tells News Now Finland.

“They can’t put so much effort because there are not enough resources. They want to be doing more, and it’s frustrating for them” he adds.

Around 14% of officers who responded to the survey said they are thinking about changing their jobs to find other ways to earn a living. “I think that’s a bad result” says Rinne.

File picture of Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green), Helsinki 5th November 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Political response to the report

The Ministry of Interior and the Police Board both received copies of the survey in advance on Monday.

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) says “the work done by police is important to society. It is worrying that they are tired and exhausted.”

“The number of police officers in Finland in relation to the population is small compared to many other countries. The fact that Finland is a large country and distances are long is no help either. As a result, there is often too little staff and too much workload for individual police officers” Ohisalo concedes.

The minister says the government has committed to increasing the number of officers to 7,500 by 2022 and the Police Federation says doing more for police comes down to the willingness of the government to act.

“We know it is a political question, a question of money. How much will we spend on internal security, and it’s a decision our government must take” says SPJL’s Jonne Rinne.

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