Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo (Greens) reminds that the government has taken action to tackle the resource shortage affecting police and child welfare services. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR Maria Ohisalo (Greens) says she is profoundly shocked by news that three 16-year-old boys are suspected of murdering a boy of the same age in Koskela, Helsinki, on 4 December.

Ohisalo told STT on Friday that the act disturbs social stability.

“Things like these shouldn’t be happening under any circumstances in a welfare society. You have to ask what can drive people to commit an act as shocking as this. My condolences to the victim’s family,” she commented.

She pointed out that many are doing better than ever in today’s society, but at the same time serious problems are mounting for other groups of people.

“Bullying is in its worst forms very criminal activity. We’ve talked about the issue previously with ministers, and an action plan to fight bullying and loneliness is being drafted at the Ministry of Culture and Education.”

Ohisalo also reminded that police resources decreased steadily for a decade until 2017. The Finnish government has dedicated resources to preventive efforts such as Ankkuri, a programme that brings together the expertise of police, schools, social services, youth outreach and health care services to prevent youth crime.

Child welfare services, she acknowledged, have similarly been hampered by a long-standing shortage of resources. The government has taken action to ensure the caseload of child welfare officers becomes more reasonable.

“Child welfare professionals should have more time to focus on their cases. I’ve also called attention to the need to guarantee the availability of special care periods,” she said, referring to a period of intensive care by a multi-professional team designed to stop young people from behaving in a way that damages themselves.

Waiting times have increased also in mental health services for children and young people.

“Early interventions would be more sustainable both humanely and economically,” reminded Ohisalo. “It’s important that authorities call attention to alarming phenomena in their everyday work and wake up the rest of society, especially politicians, to realise their own role and responsibility regarding these issues.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT