Counter-terrorism measures in Finland
The Finnish Police have set up permanent situation awareness, command and cooperation structures operating 24/7 with the capacity to identify and, if necessary, react swiftly to possible terrorist threats. Local police departments, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Finnish Security Intelligence Service have intensified their cooperation in information exchange and operational activities.
The Finnish Security Intelligence Service ensures that reporting on situation awareness on counter-terrorism is up to date and gives accounts to the national leaders and competent authorities. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service increased the terrorist threat level in Finland to elevated in its terrorist threat assessment issued in June 2017.
Threat assessment by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service
The authorities take account of the terrorist threat assessment in their preparedness planning and organise regular exercises to improve operational readiness and cooperation.
Operational counter-terrorism skills and response capacity have been improved, for example by further developing operating models and setting up special task forces within police units to deal with demanding situations. The police also have a national SWAT team.
Finland is actively involved in international efforts to combat terrorism. Liaison officer activities, exchange of information and other forms of cooperation with authorities in other countries contribute to identifying risks and threats, and addressing them effectively, with due regard for various aspects of legal protection.
Legislation provides measures to combat terrorism
As for the legislative measures on counter-terrorism, the Ministry of the Interior has begun a project with the aim of enacting civilian intelligence legislation. On 11 March 2019, Parliament approved a government proposal for a Civilian Intelligence Act. As a result, Finland will have a Civilian Intelligence Act that improves our capabilities to protect against serious threats to national security. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service will be granted additional powers for combating terrorism, for instance.
The Ministry of the Interior has participated in the Ministry of Justice working group that prepared the implementation of the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism. The Directive harmonises the legislation on terrorist offences in the EU.
In Finland, participation in terrorist activities, including recruitment, financing, the provision of training, the receipt of training and travelling with intent to commit a terrorist offence, is largely criminalised.
Foreign fighter phenomenon tackled in many different ways
In March 2017, the ministerial working group on internal security and administration of justice decided to develop an operating model for cross-sectoral cooperation which could reduce the risk of violence and radicalisation associated with persons returning from conflict zones and which could advance their reintegration into Finnish society.
People who have returned to Finland from conflict zones have been referred to multiprofessional Ankkuri (Anchor) teams. This method was created to prevent and intervene at an early stage in crimes committed by children and young people, and to combat intimate partner violence. The related activities are based on the professional skills of the police, social workers, psychiatric nurses and youth workers and on the cooperation between these actors. Rapid intervention and opportunities to discuss issues with someone decrease the risk of violence and recidivism.
The National Police Board and the University of Eastern Finland are carrying out a project to produce a handbook on multiprofessional Ankkuri (Anchor) activities. The project is financed by the Internal Security Fund.
In September 2016, the Government decided on the measures to step up the fight against violent extremist movements, and as part of these measures, the efforts to tackle hate speech have also been strengthened.
Read more about the prevention of violent radicalisation