The plan for new legislation regulating the private security sector includes risks
JHL is highly critical of the Ministry of the Interior’s plan for legislation on the private security sector. According to the union the new Private Security Services Act would infringe on citizens’ fundamental rights and allow tasks designated for public authority to glide into private hands.
The aim of the proposal is to clarify legislation concerning the private security sector and to uniform the authorisation of those working in this branch.
Ari Huuskonen, the JHL police administration shop steward, sees the proposal going even further.
"According to the proposal private security staff could participate in guarding people taken into custody by the police. We are talking about the use of public power which is unambiguously the task of a competent public authority and something that must be done with official responsibility and accountability."
The draft of the new act makes provision for the National Police Board to transfer guarding or custodial duties to persons authorised to operate in this area i.e. to private companies.
"Private jail wardens were used in eastern Finland some years ago, but the Parliamentary Deputy-Ombudsman advised that this was unconstitutional. People who are incarcerated are under the supervision of those guarding them and for this reason the job must be done by a competent authority."
Huuskonen also points to citizens’ equality as a reason for not allowing private companies to take charge of people held in custody. " Police guards have access to various official registers and databases. It is too big a risk if all kinds of people in sensitive workplaces have the same kind of access without any official responsibility."
As Finland is a country with two national official languages, Finnish and Swedish, police officers in many parts of the country are obliged to provide services in both languages. "The draft act says nothing about the language skills of the private guards", Huuskonen adds.