Finland: Alcohol Fuels Violent Crime Spike During COVID-19
Official statistics from the National Police Board in Finland report a spike in violent crime which is possibly fueled by alcohol and other drug use.
The police board’s statistics found that a total of 201 murders, homicides or attempted homicides were comitted during the January-to-May period of 2020. This is the highest premeditated homicide and attempted homicide rate in Finland than in any comparable period over the last 10 years.
Violent crime specifically spiked in the month of March, 2020.
Post doctoral researcher, Miikka Vuorela from the University of Helsinki said March was when the COVID-19 crisis hit the country the sharpest leading to development of many problems including an increase in alcohol and other substance abuse.
People stayed in their homes, afraid of getting sick and losing their jobs. This stress contributed to the onset of alcohol and other substance abuse, as well as mental health problems,” said Mr Vuorela, as per Yle.
A number of specific issues related to the spike in violent crimes have caught the attention of the police. This includes use of alcohol and other drugs, problems in relationships that result in violence, and mental health problems.
There have been three main reasons for homicides: the use of recreational drugs, problems in relationships that result in violence, and mental health problems, especially in relation to the incidents of attempted murder,” said detective Jari Koski of the Helsinki Police Department’s Violent Crime Unit, as per Yle.
Up to the end of May, the Police had investigated,
- 21 attempted murders, an increase of 75% compared to previous years;
- 33 suspected homicides, an increase of 60% compared to previous years; and
- 133 homicide attempts, an increase of 24% compared to 2010s.
This is an exceptional phenomenon in which the current crisis is producing a wave of crime, said Mr Vuorela, as per Yle.
Most reports of violent crime have come from private homes according to the Police Board. Finnish city centres have become calmer than usual with less violence being reported due to closure of bars and restaurants.
Alcohol’s connection to violence is apparent when looking at some of the reports. For example, a man who was intoxicated with alcohol fired at police officers in the village of Pelkosenniemi in Lapland which has the highest homicides rate per population rating in Finland.
Alcohol is involved in almost all homicides here,” said Jukka Haataja and officer in the Lapland Police Department, as per Yle.