- Target Audience
- Youth/pupils/studentsGeneral publicLaw enforcement officers
- key themes association
- Community engagement/civil societyMulti-agency cooperation
- Peer Reviewed practice
Preventive Policing Unit, Helsinki Police Department (a local police department/law enforcement authority)
Type of Organisation: Governmental institution
The Preventive Policing Unit in Helsinki Police Department was founded in 2012, based on related experience of such work internationally. The main aim of the unit is to enhance the security of the city of Helsinki and to act early to prevent phenomena that endanger security, jointly with other police units (both local and national, e.g. the Finnish Security Intelligence Service and the National Bureau of Investigation), authorities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), companies and the citizens of Helsinki.
A key measure is to build trust between the police, the NGOs and the communities in Helsinki, and to jointly address potential security and safety challenges. Security planning and cooperation is based on a reciprocal relationship that benefits all parties. Early intervention calls for active and target-oriented cooperation across partners.
One of the chief daily tasks of the Preventive Policing Unit is to prevent violent extremism (from individuals prepared to use violence to further an ideology (e.g. religious, left-wing and right-wing extremism), individuals with hard-line, extremist views and lone actors such as school shooters). This preventive work is carried out by three groups, each with a particular focus and specific approach.
- Team 1: Cooperation with multicultural and multilingual communities in Helsinki; prevention of violent extremism.
- Team 2: Local problem-solving and work with young people, especially those at risk of committing crimes, first-time young offenders, socially excluded individuals, etc.
- Team 3: 'The Anchor', a multi-professional team comprising police officers, social workers and psychiatric nurses who work together in a shared space.
Daily responsibilities of the unit's uniform and plain-clothes police officers include meeting communities and young people, participating in and helping organise community events, visiting mosques, negotiating in demonstrations, and holding seminars and Q&A sessions with communities.
When teams come across an individual at risk of radicalisation or who has already been radicalised, and who is facing additional different problems as well, a multi-professional work and approach is often used. This means that cases are addressed either by Team 3 or another team acting individually or jointly with other teams and units — or with the additional help of a suitable NGO.
This practice has equipped police in Helsinki with a wide network of partners working towards the same goal: to enhance the security and to prevent violent extremism.