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Finland Table of Contents

Finland

Incidence of Crime

According to official Finnish data for 1986, the largest group of crimes covered by the Criminal Code was crimes against property (75 percent of the total); theft alone accounted for 42 percent, and embezzlement and fraud for 15 percent. Drunken driving constituted 9 percent of all Criminal Code violations, and crimes against personal safety, mostly assaults, accounted for 7 percent.

During the 1970s, the crime rate showed a rising trend corresponding to the growing affluence of the country and to the shift in population from the rural north to the urban south. After the mid-1970s, however, the rate for many crime categories leveled off; in some cases it even fell. Robberies decreased during the 1980s, and bank robberies were infrequent, only sixteen cases being recorded in 1986. Assaults increased somewhat during the same period, roughly parallel to the increase in alcohol consumption. Embezzlements and fraud increased noticeably, in part as a consequence of the mass introduction of credit cards in the 1980s. Drunken driving offenses slackened off relative to the number of automobiles, from a rate of 161 per 100,000 cars in 1977 to 122 per 100,000 cars in 1985. This was due both to stricter controls and to an absolute decrease in the number of drunken drivers.

In 1986 the number of murder and manslaughter cases investigated by the police amounted to 143. The homicide rate of 3 per 100,000 of population was considered to be high by European standards. Finland's rate of assault was more than three times the rate of Denmark and Norway, but similar to that of Sweden. Finland, however, experienced the lowest theft rate of all the Scandinavian countries; this appeared to be explained by differentials in the level of prosperity, urbanization, and population density among the nations. Finland was also lowest in narcotic offenses (see Drug Enforcement , this ch.).

Data as of December 1988