National frameworks to address hate crime in Finland

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Finland. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Finland's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

All crime reports are recorded in the Finnish Police's national information system (PATJA). PATJA can be used to search and find specific offences using, for example, key words, specific criminal titles, statistical codes and the date the report was filed. PATJA includes dedicated fields for hate crime, although these are not compulsory.

As the majority of crimes are reported to the Finnish Police online, a question on the victim's perception of the crime was included in the online questionnaire. A hate crime definition is also included in the questionnaire, and the victim is asked to explain why they think the crime was motivated by hate. The case is then automatically flagged as a hate crime in the police system.

A dedicated Hate Crime Monitoring System is also used. Since 2009, statistical reports on hate crime reported to the police are compiled annually by the Police University College of Finland. Data collection is conducted in three phases: collecting raw data, sifting and classifying offences as hate crimes, and creating variables based on incident descriptions.

The Criminal Code of Finland does not include a definition of hate crime, but does include it as an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes. For the purpose of reporting, hate crime is defined as a crime against a person, group, property, institution, or a representative of these, motivated by prejudice or hostility towards the victim's real or perceived ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, transgender identity or appearance, or disability.

The raw data collected for the annual hate crime reports consists of all the reports of an offence recorded by the police on the victim based on the following criteria: 1) all reports marked with the hate crime code; 2) all reports that include "racist" or "racism"; 3) all reports of an offence that include one of the specified criminal titles where one of key words is used (there are 271 key words in total); 4) all reports classified as discrimination, work discrimination, extortionate work discrimination, ethnic agitation, aggravated ethnic agitation, genocide, preparation for the commission of a genocide, crime against humanity, aggravated crime against humanity or torture; 5) all reports where a special (TUPA) code was used. This code was introduced in 2015 to monitor crimes and police action in relation to the present asylum situation. However, in 2021 the TUPA code was not applied to a single case.

The police officer filing a crime report must mark the report with a hate crime code where applicable. However, in spite of orders issued by the National Police Board, the use of the code by police officers in reports could be improved. Therefore, other search criteria are needed to locate as many reports of racist offences as possible. The keywords mentioned above include terms of abuse that may have been used during offences. The list of search terms is updated whenever new expressions or other new, effective search terms are discovered.

The reports that are found in the first phase are reviewed. The classification of a case involving hate crime is based on the incident descriptions that the police have recorded and which are included in the reports. A report is classified as a hate crime if one of the injured parties or the police considered the motivation for the crime to be the victim's real or perceived membership in a group, such as an ethnic minority group. Thus, the classification of cases is based on the injured party's own statement about the incident, as not all reports of an offence include a statement from the suspect. The classification of a case can also be based on other clues about the motivation for the crime that are mentioned in the police report. Typical clues include insults referring to the victim's real or perceived membership in a group. The suspect does not have to be a member of the majority population, nor is the victim of the crime necessarily a member of a minority group.

For all reports in the final data, information on suspected crimes, injured parties and suspected offenders is recorded and converted into numeric variables. The information for the variables is collected from the police information system, and includes data such as the city where the incident happened and the personal information about both the injured party and the suspect. Some of the variables are reconfigured (e.g., time of the incident), and some have to be determined on the basis of the narrative information included in the crime reports (e.g., location of the incident, relationship between the victim and the suspect). The analysis of this numerical data gives information about hate crimes reported to the police in the target year, and the results are documented in an annual hate crime report.

The statistical method described above does not identify a hate crime if it is not reported to the police at all or if the report of an offence cannot be found via the data mining method described above. Hate crime victim surveys published by the Ministry of Justice indicate that 80 per cent of those who have been involved in a hate crime did not report it to the police.

There is no systematic practice of reporting hate crime by prosecutors and the judiciary. It is possible to obtain statistics on specific criminal offences, such as incitement to hatred and discrimination. However, when using the name of an offence as a search condition in the current database, the search results only include the most severe offences. In addition, it is possible to get statistics of the cases that police have flagged as hate crimes and that have been prosecuted or sentenced. However, this means that the majority of the cases are not included, since police do not flag all cases. At the moment, it is not possible to get statistics on cases for which the Criminal Code provision on grounds increasing the punishment has been applied by prosecutors and courts, as this information is not always filled in. The data system of the prosecutors and the courts is currently being renewed. A new system (AIPA) will be introduced that will make it easier to find relevant information on hate crime using search words/categorizations. AIPA will be adopted gradually in the next few years. Statistics concerning prosecutors and courts provided in this report have been collected by the Ministry of Justice.

The Discrimination Monitoring Group, co-ordinated by the Ministry of the Justice, consists of representatives of various official agencies, research institutes, NGOs, and equality, gender equality and self-governing bodies. The group also occasionally carries out victim surveys on hate crime. The Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy (ICLP) of the University of Helsinki conducts victimization and offending surveys among young people. These projects include questions on the hate motivation of crimes.

The Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy (ICLP) of the University of Helsinki conducts regular victimization surveys to measure unreported hate crime in Finland. The survey is conducted every four years, and the most recent survey was in 2020.

A civil society organization – the Anti-Racist Forum – collects data on hate crimes using the "Together Against Hate" reporting tool. 

Hate crime victim support

Finland has a country-wide victim support service provider, Victim Support Finland (RIKU). RIKU has a public service obligation to provide general victim support in Finland in the period 2018-2027. RIKU supports all crime victims, including victims of hate crime.

Police are required to assess the individual needs of each victim, including their specific protection needs. Police officers follow specific guidelines on victims' rights, individual needs assessments and referrals. Based on this process, and provided the victim's consent is granted, the victim is referred to RIKU for further assistance, and special protection measures can be applied.

Special protection measures include: interviewing victims in specially designated facilities; ensuring that interviews are conducted by the same person or person of the same gender as the victim; conducting criminal proceedings via video connection or in the absence of the accused; recording victim testimonies and using these as evidence; excluding the public from the proceedings; and concealing the identity of the victim.

RIKU functions on the basis of a co-operation agreement between various civil society organizations. It is funded mainly by the state and works closely with the police and other agencies that come into contact with victims. Services provided by RIKU include legal advice and psychological support for victims, their families and witnesses in a criminal case. All services are free of charge, confidential and available in different languages. Victims can contact the RIKU anonymously.

The Ministry of Justice funds general victim support services, with a share of funding contributed by the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (STEA). Support services are also financed by a victim surcharge that is imposed on perpetrators.

Hate crime capacity building

Finland implemented ODIHR's Training Against Hate Crimes for Law Enforcement (TAHCLE) programme in 2017 and went on to train over 1,000 police officers on hate crimes before integrating the programme's hate crime modules into pre- and in-service training for police.

Materials on hate crimes are included in the three-year basic police training as well as in the continuation training. A compulsory online training on equality and hate crimes was introduced for police in 2021 and is mandatory for new police officers. A hate crime specialist's training is arranged at the Police University College every year. Online training on anti-Semitism was also arranged for the police.

The Office of the Prosecutor General arranges regular hate crime training for prosecutors. Criminal investigators also have the opportunity to participate in the training. The training is not compulsory, but it is recommended that all prosecutors complete the course. The training lasts two to three days.

The National Courts Administration and the Judicial Training Board are jointly responsible for planning and running training courses for the judiciary in Finland. In addition to the national trainings organized every second year, representatives of the judiciary also have the possibility to participate in international hate crime trainings, such as the online training provided by HELP (Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals).