Preventive work to combat violent radicalisation and extremism

Violent radicalisation and extremism refer to using, threatening with, encouraging or justifying violence based on one’s own view of the world, or on ideological grounds. Violent radicalisation may result in a person joining violent extremist groups or engaging in the related actions. At its most extreme, violent radicalisation can result in terrorist acts.

Preventive action is the best way to combat violent radicalisation and extremism. Prevention is always better than trying to cure a problem, enhances public safety and people's sense of security, and reduces polarisation in society.

The threat of violent radicalisation and extremism is still low in Finland in comparison with many other countries, but has increased in recent years.

Action plan targets youths

The National Action Plan for the Prevention of Violent Radicalisation and Extremism is a publication that helps the Ministry of the Interior to coordinate the prevention of radicalisation at national level. The Ministry of the Interior has appointed a national cooperation group, which has representatives from various authorities and organisations.

In Finland, the police, teachers, social workers, healthcare professionals, youth workers, NGOs and religious and other communities carry out anti-radicalisation work at grassroots level. Local cooperation networks are currently operating in Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Oulu.

The programme targets groups and individuals who are in danger of being radicalised. The objective is to ensure that the government’s capacity and permanent structures for preventing violent radicalisation and extremism are in place everywhere in Finland. Expertise and best practices need to be readily available. In particular, the aim is to strengthen the ability of children and adolescents to identify, and guard against, violence-inducing messages and propaganda.

The first National Action Plan was completed in 2012. Adopted in 2016, the new updated Action Plan builds on the first Plan. The Plan now includes measures for coping with the changes and new challenges in the operating environment. The Plan was evaluated in spring 2019 and it will be updated later in 2019.

The Action Plan was drawn up as a result of cooperation between the authorities, NGOs and communities, and was approved by the ministerial working group on internal security in April 2016.

The Ministry of the Interior also publishes a situation overview of violent extremism twice a year. The overview evaluates the activities of violent extremist movements in Finland and current trends.

Finland active in international cooperation

Finland cooperates locally, nationally and internationally to prevent violent radicalisation and extremism. Information is exchanged with international partners on experiences gained and best practices. Brainstorming is performed on preventive measures.

The National Action Plan successfully promotes the international objectives established by the European Union and the United Nations. Nordic cooperation, in turn, enables the further development of research activities and concrete measures to prevent violent radicalisation and extremism.