The signs of emerging suburban gangs that were observed in Sweden 10 years ago can be observed in Finland today, says Kai Mykkänen (NCP), the Minister of the Interior. Finland, he affirms, can nonetheless avoid the fate of its western neighbour by making the right investments in preventive efforts.
“Yes, it’s absolutely clear that the signs are there,” he stated to Uusi Suomi on Thursday.
“I do believe and hope we can learn from how the situation developed in Sweden and respond to it earlier than Sweden,” he added.
Sweden has been struggling to stop the escalation of violence between rival gangs in suburban neighbourhoods with high unemployment and other social problems. Gangs, for example, are believed to have been involved in the torching of scores of cars in Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden, on Monday, according to Reuters.
Antti Hyyryläinen, a detective superintendent at the National Bureau of Investigation (KRP), told MTV on Thursday that a total of 900 people are estimated to be affiliated with the roughly 90 criminal groups that are active in Finland. New groups, however, are popping up on a monthly basis, according to him.
Mykkänen revealed to Uusi Suomi he is intent on proposing in this month’s budget session that the number of police officers assigned to high-risk neighbourhoods be increased and that multi-professional co-operation be stepped up.
“If we think about the fact that we currently have 7,200 police officers, I admit that I think too small a share of them have been assigned to preventing young people from being caught in a spiral of crime. We have to have the courage to shift our internal focus a few notches towards efforts to prevent gang development among young people,” he said.
“More resources will of course be needed to put such a strategic shift into motion,” added Mykkänen.
He called particular attention to the significance of police officers being genuinely present in high-risk neighbourhoods, visiting local schools and, overall, being well known to both local residents and social workers.
“I think it’s more important that neighbourhood police can intervene in the escalation of drug use among a certain group of people or grab the knife from a young person’s hand before it’s used to stab someone, than it is to solve the theft of someone’s Toyota in two instead of three months,” he said.
Mykkänen also reminded that the situation remains markedly different from that in Sweden.
“If we let the situation escalate to a point where there’s ethnic segregation, that’d be a fertile breeding ground for hopeless young people joining criminal gangs. That’s something we have to try to reduce,” he warned.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi