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HS: Räsänen proposes police cuts and a barroom blitz

IN AN interview with the Helsingin Sanomat on Monday, Ministry of the Interior Päivi Räsänen (Christian Democrats) warned that the country’s police force must significantly rein-in spending and achieve greater efficiency. It is possible that some police stations will be closed down, she told the paper. According to the coalition government’s programme for the 2011-2015 electoral term, the police must cut its expenditure by 10 million euros by 2015 – without however any reduction in staff. That’s an impossible equation, says Räsänen.

In addition to job cuts, she proposed that further savings can be attained by cutting the amount of service staff and replacing them with increased use of online services. The austerity measures will be presented in detail in a couple of weeks, when the ministerial working group charged with drawing up the measures presents its final report.

In the same interview, the minister, who is renowned for her strongly social conservative views, also proposed shorter opening hours for bars, restaurants and other premises selling alcohol. This would take some of the pressure off the police in their efforts to cope with the savings measures, she explained. At currently, bars and nightclubs that are licensed to sell alcohol can do so until 3:30 in the morning at the latest.

Director of the Finnish Hospitality Association (MaRa) Timo Lappi dismisses Räsänen’s brainwave as pie in the sky. “It would mean even harder times for the industry saleswise, which would also cost jobs, and loss of tax revenue to the state.”