Suspected hate crimes in 2012 totaled 732, which is a 20.6% fall from 918 cases in the previous year, according to YLE in English. Of the total hate crimes reported to the police last year, 641 cases were classified as racist.
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According to YLE in English, the most common offense investigated by the police was “inciting ethnic hatred.”
The majority of the suspects were white Finns, but there were three cases where the suspect belonged to a minority.
While it is welcome news that hate crimes are on the retreat in Finland, how credible are these figures? Should we accept them at face value or treat them with tweezers?
Last month, Tarja Mankkinen, internal security secretariat head, said that many racist crimes in Finland go unreported.
As long as Finland gives political space to intolerance in any shape or form, which encourages hate crimes to happen, these types of statistics should be taken with a grain of salt. At the best, the police should encourage immigrants and visible minorities to report hate crimes.
As Migrant Tales has written previously, reporting racist harassment to the police is easier said than done.
The first line reads “racist crimes” (rasistiset rikokset) and the second one “other hate crimes” (muut viharikokset). This table has two discrepancies with earlier figures published by the Police College of Finland. In 2008 the corresponding figure was 859 and in 2011 918. Source: Police College of Finland.
Like in other parts of Europe, a Race Council Cymru study of Wales revealed how racism goes “underreported,” according to a story published by the BBC,
Factors like language barriers, fear of reprisals and lack of trust in the police are some reasons why racist crimes continue to be underreported in Wales.
The same factors must play a role in Finland as well.