Overall crime figures fell slightly in the first half of 2021 in Finland, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the National Police Board.
During January to June of the current year, the Police was informed of approximately 227,000 crimes nationwide. This is about 4% down from the same months last year. However, there is an increase in sex crimes, extortion and traffic crimes, police say.
At the same time, the investigation times have got about 17 days longer, on average.
From January to June 2021, almost 2,500 sex crimes were reported to the Police, 25% more than in the same period last year. The number includes sexual harassment, rape and sexual abuse of minors.
According to police information, the number of rape crimes reported to the Police has continued to grow over a long term.
Police say the lockdown that began in March 2020 may have caused lower numbers last year, while this spring people started to move around and do things more actively, and this may have impacted the increase this year.
The numbers of sexual abuse of minors have varied, but in 2020 the reports were significantly more numerous than usual, and the number in the early part of this year seems to be even higher than during the corresponding period last year.
The number of extortions also continues to grow, with about 700 cases more reported to the police, compared to the same months last year.
"The growth in extortions is explained by those of the customers of the psychotherapy centre Vastaamo," police say in the statement.
During the past year, both companies and public sector organisations have been victims of global extortion campaigns with malware and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, for the purpose of extorting money from the targeted organisations, possibly also through a threat of leaking the information obtained through hacking.
Drug use increasing
The number of drug crimes known to the Police decreased from last year by 27%.
The numbers of drug-related crimes in the Police records may vary significantly from year to year if the Police detects larger crime entities with several individual crimes and suspects. Such larger entities include the cases where online drug trafficking has been detected.
"Despite the decreasing volume of drug crimes known to the Police, the drug crimes detected by the Police and the Customs indicate that drug use is on the increase," Deputy National Police Commissioner Sanna Heikinheimo of the National Police Board comments on the statistics.
Another factor pointing towards an increase in drug use is the growing share of drug users among of those driving under the influence of intoxicants. As late as two years ago, 50% of driving under the influence was caused by drinking, but today drunken driving due to alcohol only accounts for less than half of all cases.
Covid-19 and house calls
House calls show approximately 4% growth compared to January-June last year.
According to Sanna Heikinheimo, Covid-19 and the ensuing restaurant and other restrictions are the main reason.
"The Police performing their tasks encounter mental ill-being and insecurity caused by the pandemic, also seen in the form of violent behaviour and exceptional disorderly conduct. The number of house calls is closely monitored and during the calls, the Police pays special attention to the situation of the children in the homes. As the pandemic situation continues and local restrictions prevail, the number of house calls is expected to remain at a high level," explains this expert.
Traffic crime has grown this year. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has cut the volume of traffic on Finnish roads, the total volume of traffic crime grew by 8%.
Endangering of traffic safety has been in particular growth, with the numbers increasing as much as 25% from last year. The traffic policing sector has also been busy with speed controls, cruising controls and moped and motorbike traffic that increased as spring started.
During the first half of the year, the investigation times have got about 17 days longer, on average.
"There are several reasons explaining the prolonged investigation times. For example, the heavy and gross crimes continue to grow, calling for demanding investigative measures. The volume of cybercrime has also grown. In almost all crime cases, there is also digital evidence material, and the technical investigation takes time," Deputy Police Commissioner Heikinheimo adds.
The travel restrictions have also contributed to the smaller number of foreigners reported as injured parties or suspects, compared to the same period of time last year.