Combating violent radicalisation through preventive work

Violent radicalisation and extremism refer to using violence, threatening with it or encouraging or justifying it on the basis of one’s own view of the world, or on ideological grounds. Violent radicalisation may lead to individuals joining violent extremist groups or engaging in such action. 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 cure.

Fear of punishment does not stand in the way of violent radicalisation, as it seldom has an effect on individuals who are already strong supporters of violent ideologies. Prevention also increases safety and people's sense of security and reduces polarisation in society, an increase of which is one of the goals of violent extremist groups.

The prevention of violent radicalisation and extremism targets all forms of violent extremism in Finland. These are violent right-wing and left-wing extremism, religiously motivated violent extremism and radical environmental movements.

In Finland, the risk of violent radicalisation and extremism is still small in comparison with many other countries. However, the threat has been on the increase in recent years. Individual actors and small groups pose the greatest threat of violence.

Organisation of work at national and local levels

To combat violent radicalisation and extremism, the Ministry of the Interior is responsible combating violent radicalisation and extremism by coordinating preventive measures at the national level. The Ministry of the Interior has appointed a national cooperation group with representatives from various authorities and organisations. The authorities involved in the activities have organised preventive work in their own administrative sector.

The prevention cooperation groups in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Oulu have been working locally since 2012. The composition of the cooperation groups varies from place to place, including the police, the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service, municipal authorities, representatives of the Defence Forces and the Criminal Sanctions Agency, and organisations as members or expert members.

Anchor groups shall be responsible for preventive work focusing on individuals in accordance with the principles described in the Anchor Manual (Ministry of the Interior publication 2019:16).

Preventive measures focus on groups and individuals that run the risk of radicalisation. A further aim is to combat the negative effects of violent extremist groups and individuals on people's everyday lives and habitats.

Local monitoring of the activities of these groups and individuals on social media platforms should be increased and efforts should be made to combat the effects that the material disseminated on social media have on people's sense of security and inclusion, among other things. 

The first National Action Plan was completed in 2012. Adopted in 2016, the plan was supplemented by measures that respond to the new challenges and changes in the environment.

The Action Plan was evaluated in spring 2019, and the Government adopted the third Action Plan on 19 December 2019.

The Ministry of the Interior publishes a situation overview of violent extremism once or twice a year. The report 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 and participates actively in international cooperation. Information is exchanged with international partners on experiences obtained and best practices known to all countries. Brainstorming is done on preventive measures.

The Nordic Safe Cities network and the inter-ministerial cooperation network are key forums for Nordic cooperation.

In the European Union, it is the responsibility of the Member States to prevent violent radicalisation. The European Commission develops and coordinates activities at the EU level and supports cooperation among Member States. A unit within the Commission, composed of both Commission staff and experts from the Member States, is responsible for this work.

The National Action Plan 2019 successfully promotes the international objectives established by the European Union and the United Nations.