2007-08-01

Statistics on suspected racist crimes

Tanja Noponen's study "Poliisin tietoon tullut rasistinen rikollisuus Suomessa 2006" ("Racist Crime That Came into the Knowledge of the Police in Finland in 2006") has garnered some media attention (fi), but the whole shebang (PDF) is worth looking over. It's mostly in Finnish, but there's an English language abstract that gives a good idea of what racist crime in today's Finland looks like:

In 2006, a total of 748 suspected racist crimes were filed. The number is higher than in the previous years. The most common offence, as in previous years, was assault. A total of 40% of all cases were assaults or attempted assaults. Other common headings of offence in 2006 were discrimination, breach of honour, unlawful threats and damage to property. In 2006, there were more discrimination cases than the year before. These took place, with only few exceptions, in a restaurant into which a member of an ethnic minority was denied access. The most common locale for committing racist offences was a restaurant or the area in front of it or an outdoor public place such as a street, road, market place or park. Over 60% of the offences were committed in the evening or at night.

Most of the suspected racist crimes were committed against foreigners or people of foreign extraction. However, the proportion of Finnish victims increased from the previous years and accounted for over a half of all victims of racist crimes. Of foreigners, the ethnicities most offended against were the Turks, Somalis and Iranians. The majority (73%) of all people reporting were men, most of them belonging to the 35–44 age group. Offences committed against men and women differed slightly. Most racist offences against men were assaults. Women were most often victims of discrimination, breach of honour and breach of domestic peace. One fifth of all suspected crimes with a racist crime code against women in 2006 were cases of discrimination.

What is more, most suspects (89%) were men, of which over 80% were Finnish citizens born in Finland. Of all suspects, approximately half were between the ages of 15 and 24. For the past five years, the said age group has been the most common age group suspected of racist offences. In approximately 30% of the cases, the victim did not know the suspect. Especially assaults were committed by strangers. In one fifth of the cases, the offence, most of the time discrimination, was committed in a customer relationship. Least crimes (1%) were committed among colleagues. Most racist offences committed by neighbours were filed as unlawful threats, breaches of honour and breaches of domestic peace. Approximately one fifth of all breaches of honour and unlawful threats, and over 15% of breaches of domestic peace took place among neighbours.

The majority (80%) of cases reported to the police in the beginning of 2006 were forwarded to a prosecutor for consideration of charges after preliminary investigation. Of all investigated cases forwarded to a prosecutor, discrimination offences accounted for 95%. Therefore, it seems that the police is active in forwarding cases if the perpetrator is caught. No information is available as to what happened during consideration of charges. The grounds for not forwarding a to a prosecutor were equally excluded from the study.

There's also some interesting data from attitude surveys (my clumsy translation): "Finnish attitudes toward different ethnic minorities differ. Attitudes toward people from countries poorer than Finland who are different in their culture and appearance are more negative. At the bottom of the ethnic hierarchy are Somalians, Arabs, Russians, and Kurds. The next most negative attitutes concern immigration by Turks, Moroccans, black Africans, and former Yugoslavians. Attitudes toward immigration by Ingrians, Anglo-Saxons, and Nordics are the most positive. Of Finland's traditional minorities Sami are seen most positively, and Muslims and Roma most negatively. Although negative attitudes toward foreigners have decreased, the ethnic hierarchy has remained mostly the same."

Russians (20.8%) and Estonians (14.5%) are the two biggest immigrant groups. Over 40 percent of immigrants come from neighboring countries. The report says that Turks (11.4 suspected crimes per 1'000 people), Somalis (9.1), Iranians (7.7), and Afghans (5.5) are most likely to be the victims of suspected racist crimes. At the other end of the scale we find Vietnamese (1.1), Germans (1.0), Russians (1.0), and Estonians (0.3).

The number of discrimination cases went up from 37 in 2005 to 118 in 2006, an increase of 81 cases. As the total number of cases increased by 79, all other forms of suspected racist crimes stayed flat. The results suggest that the increase was mostly down to increased reporting. If you look at it positively, it suggests that racism isn't increasing (at least based on crime statistics). If you look at it negatively, it indicates that in previous years the picture was too rosy. It would be interesting to have figures on convictions.

7 comments:

egan said...

'It' be interesting to have figures on convictions.'

Damn straight. I don't know much about that farrago in kajaani, I wasn't living here then, but among my (white, american) colleagues it was evidence of a rather too easily concealed racism, and the foreigners took the blame as they 'usually do'. I'd like to hear another view, if there is one, but the Finnish media isn't known for plurality of opinions. Especially if you have to go to kajaani for them.

bunseni_lamp said...

I think you meant Roma (=gypsy) when you wrote Romanians, there's not much Romanians in Finland, now is there? The word Roma is used by gypsies to refer to themselves, Romanian on the other hand cognates with Rome (which is in Italy, by the way).

Anonymous said...

Egan, what is your problem with that Kajaani incident? The Finns involved in it were crucified in the media before the trial, but were found innocent by the court.

Now, of course, the liberal prejudice is that the native population is always to blame in ethnic clashes, but it is not a realistic view.

Ari said...

bunseni_lamp, thanks for pointing out the gaffe. I've fixed it now.

Re the Kajaani pizzeria incident, my recollection is that the media in general proceeded from the assumption that it was a racist attack. That the verdict went against the immigrants probably came as a surprise to most who formed their opinion on the events based on pre-trial media coverage.

egan said...

My information was that the media got that from the police, who then changed their mind, and the media immediately fell into line when the immigrants got done. feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Ari said...

Egan, I think that's about right about the Kajaani police's role in the media coverage. The Helsingin Sanomat's post-verdict post mortem makes the same point. However, the police seem to have fallen silent after the initial comments and the course of coverage didn't change till the verdicts were out.

egan said...

I suppose this is at least better than the de menezes case, when the police changed their story again but in a different direction. Unfortunately the British media are even more toothless than the Finns in finding out why the Police changed their story (ie lied) so much in the aftermath. I guess it happens everywhere.