“We need to be more specific in communication”

Police have previously admitted that they had previously assessed the security threat posed by the protest at the Government Castle incorrectly and failed to communicate. There was controversy in the descriptions of the events by the police and the ministers, among other things.

The August Rebellion blocked the Government’s entrances to the castle on October 8 to demand an explanation from the government as to why no action should be taken to match the severity of the climate and environmental crisis. Photo: Petteri Bülow / Yle

The Helsinki Police have given a report to the Police Board on their actions during the Elokapina demonstration on 8 October.

The police department considers that, according to the report received, there were legal grounds for terminating the demonstration.

The protesters were given the opportunity to transform their activities into ones that could be safeguarded as freedom of assembly. In practice, the closure of the protest concerned only the management and blocking of the main entrances to the Government Castle, according to a police bulletin. (switch to another service) is told.

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The owner of the area had also requested that the demonstration be moved or demolished from the entrances to the Government Castle.

Conflicting messages about security threats

According to the press release, the head of the operation considered that the demonstration posed a security threat to the Government Castle and the protected persons inside it.

However, the investigation has shown that the demonstration did not constitute a concrete security threat.

– The word choices used in the bulletins published at the time of the incident have been partially unsuccessful. In the future, the police department will have to pay more attention to the choice of words in the communication, the press release says.

Police said immediately after the protest that government castle security guards were directing the president, ministers and officials out through alternative routes due to a security threat. President Sauli Niinistö and ministers Li Andersson and Annika Saarikko however, reported that they had passed through normal routes.

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The capture of some protesters lasted more than 24 hours

Police arrested 51 protesters at the scene, some of whom took more than 24 hours to arrest.

According to police, those arrested on criminal grounds have been suspected in the pre-trial investigation of a gross violation of public peace, obstruction of a meeting and stubbornness against the police. Irrespective of the criminal titles of the present case, the duration of the deprivation of liberty in this case should have been as short as possible, the press release states.

In connection with the situation, a consultation with the designated regional prosecutor has been requested during and after the organization of the situation.

The police department will not take a position on the criminal titles because the investigation is ongoing.

Three points of development

Police commissioner Lasse Aapio raises three issues that have emerged from the investigation, which the Helsinki Police Department must develop in its own operations.

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Firstly, co-operation between authorities needs to be further developed.

In addition, communication should be clear, timely and reliable, Aapio states.

– In communication, we need to be even more precise about what kind of wording we use and where and how we communicate. Third, in the future, we must pay attention to the adequate resourcing of investigative activities so that the investigative activities can be carried out without delay, and the deprivation of liberty will not last longer than necessary, Aapio says.