Oulu, a roughly 200,000-resident city in North Ostrobothnia, has been rocked by reports that several men of immigrant backgrounds are suspected of serious sex crimes against children. (Credit: Timo Heikkala – Lehtikuva)

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THE NUMBER of sex crimes reported to law enforcement authorities increased by 13.8 per cent year-on-year in Finland in 2018, according to Statistics Finland.

The number of rapes reported to authorities rose by 7.5 per cent to 1,338 and that of sexual harassment by almost 28 per cent to 529 in 2018. The number of rape reports remained below the previous year’s level for more than half of last year before rising between August and September.

Finnish authorities were also notified of a total of 1,363 cases of child sexual abuse, representing an increase of nearly 17 per cent from the previous year.

Statistics Finland reminded, however, that the number of rape and child sexual abuse reports tends to vary noticeably on a year-to-year basis and that a single report may consist of several offences.

Rapid increase in Helsinki

The Police of Finland cast light on its preliminary statistics on sex crimes earlier this week, reporting that foreigners accounted for a disproportionately large share (25%) of sex crimes reported in Finland. Foreign nationals make up fewer than five per cent of the total population of the country.

The preliminary statistics show that foreigners were suspected in over 19 per cent of child sexual abuse and 34 per cent of rape cases in 2018.

The statistics also show that sex crime reported to authorities increased most rapidly in Helsinki in 2018: the number of rape reports rose from 194 to 254 and that of child sexual abuse reports from 121 to 205.

“Overall, the number of events is considerably higher in Helsinki,” Pekka Heikkinen, a chief superintendent at the National Police Board, commented to Uusi Suomi on Monday.

Foreigners were suspected in nearly 54 per cent of rape and 32 per cent of child sexual abuse cases reported in the Finnish capital.

Violent crimes decrease marginally

The number of violent crime reports contrastively fell marginally from the previous year, indicates the data published by Statistics Finland. The number of assaults reported to authorities dropped by 1.1 per cent year-on-year to 33,200, whereas that of homicides rose by almost 25 per cent – from 73 to 90 between 2017 and 2018.

A total of 439,200 crimes and misdemeanours were reported to the Police of Finland, the Finnish Customs and the Finnish Border Guard in 2018, signalling an increase 800, or 0.2 per cent, from the previous year.

Higher risk of getting caught

The National Crime Victim Survey indicates the incidence of sexual violence has not increased substantially in recent years, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

“There have been no changes in the prevalence of sex crimes between 2013 and 2017. [The share] has fluctuated between one and two per cent, based on what people have reported in the crime victim surveys,” Petri Danielsson, an expert at the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy of the University of Helsinki, said to STT.

The sexual abuse of children, in turn, has decreased since 1988, according to the latest Child Victim Survey conducted in 2013 by the Police University College.

“The findings corroborate the assumption that, instead of the number of abuse cases, the detection of such cases has increased in recent years as a result of improved official controls and higher risk of getting caught,” the authors of the study concluded.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi