Efforts are underway in Helsinki to attract more people of immigrant background into the ranks of police and firemen. Only a handful of non-ethnic Finns currently serve in Finnish law enforcement.
A three-month course is being held in Helsinki to encourage immigrants to apply to training programmes for police, firemen and security guards.
Few Finns of immigrant background seek careers in law enforcement, despite efforts to attract multicultural recruits, says Somali-born Said Aden who is coordinating the project.
Language requirements are the greatest deterrent. However some may harbour painful experiences with military or police from their home countries, according to Aden. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Police and immigrant groups both share mutual prejudices,Ã¢â‚¬Â he adds.
While the National Police College does not record statistics on the ethnic origin of applicants, a 2003 survey found that between 1997 and 2002, 60 persons of non-Finnish background applied to the school. Of these, ten were admitted, with three born abroad.
The Police College trains 100 new officers annually; however, prior to savings measures in recent years, that number ranged from 300 to 500.