The Helsinki and Vantaa police departments have stepped up the inspections of foreigners' residence permits. Police officers are making spot checks in places where foreigners typically gather, including shopping malls, railway stations, and harbours.
In Vantaa, spot checks have been made in the shopping centres of Myyrmanni and Jumbo, among others. In Espoo, random inspections are not worthwhile, as the number of targets would be comparatively low, says Chief Inspector Aaro Väätäinen.
Anyone looking or sounding foreign can be chosen as the target of spot checks.
"A foreigner is always obliged to explain why he or she is in Finland. However, they do not have to carry all relevant documents with them all the time, as the facts can be checked through a computer network" reports Chief Inspector Jouko Aromäki from the Vantaa police.
"At some point we will certainly have a meeting involving the police, the Customs, and the Border Guard in order to discuss how the authorities are to cooperate in the matter", notes Jaakko Heinilä, the head of the Investigation Unit at the Helsinki Immigration Police.
"The point of these checks is to maintain order and security in public places, with a view to the wellbeing of all citizens and residents of this country", stresses Heinilä.
The Vantaa police have conducted such spot checks already for some years. Now they are being made more regularly, at least twice a month.
Until now only "a few persons without any permits" have been discovered in Vantaa and Helsinki.
The police are not willing to give any exact figures, but they are satisfied with the results in both cities.
Heinilä notes further that for the time being the function of the checks is more or less to provide information in order that the scope of the phenomenon could be established.
According to Heinilä, the number of "illegals" - foreigners without permits - is not high, at least for the time being. "After all, Finland is situated at the far end of Europe. On the other hand, we believe that only the tip of the iceberg has been detected so far, as it is not possible to conduct any systematic inspections, just spot checks", Heinilä notes.
"The inspections of foreigners may now attract attention, as they are being conducted publicly in places where they have previously been made less conspicuously. The number of such checks will be stepped up, and they will be conducted throughout the year", Heinilä concludes.
Typically, a foreigner without a residence permit comes from Africa or from the Middle East. Unable to present any identity card, he or she has come into Finland through another Schengen country, without facing border immigration control formalities.
Source: HS (English)