Based on data from 2020, over 543 thousand crime cases were reported to the Finnish authorities, which was an increase of 20 percent on the previous year. The overall crime rate reached 98.2 per 1,000 population, compared to roughly 82 per 1,000 inhabitants in the year before. In particular, thefts, frauds, narcotics offenses and certain types of violent crime spiked during 2020. Of all of the reported offenses and violations, about half were property crimes and a quarter were traffic offenses.
Generally speaking, the total number of offenses and crimes against life has been decreasing since the beginning of the 1990’s. The homicide rate in Finland was 1.18 in 2019, compared to 2.06 in 2009. The rates are notably lower than in Russia or the Baltic States, but still higher than in other Nordic countries. This difference has been explained by the role of alcohol use and social exclusion as underlying factors.
Most of the criminal offences and infractions are recorded by the Finnish police. For this reason, trends in types of crime also reflect how actively victims report offenses to the authorities. When asked about exposure to violent crime in a 2019 survey, nearly seven percent of Finns said that they had experienced physical violence in the past 12 months. In 2020, the number of victims of recorded violent and sexual offenses amounted to 67.9 thousand, increasing by almost 31 percent compared to the previous year. The majority of this type of crime victims were women, whereas more men fell victim to violence during the past decade. Moreover, there are major gender differences in experiences of violence. Sexual and domestic violence most often affects women, who constituted almost 70 percent of domestic violence victims in Finland in 2019.
In terms of imprisonment, the daily average number of people behind bars in Finland has decreased by nearly half from 1975 to 2019. In fact, Finland has one of the lowest incarceration rates in Europe, at around 50 per 100 thousand inhabitants. There were around three thousand inmates in the country’s 26 prisons during 2019. Most of them were sentenced male prisoners who served maximum two years in closed prisons. Currently, Finland has 15 closed and 11 open prisons, which focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society. This “softer” approach to punishing crime has also been linked to falling recidivism rates, which was 36 percent among prisoners with one previous sentence.