Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo (Green) has said that she is worried about a police decision to begin charging fees for providing backup in critical tasks related to child protection or mental health rehabilitation, among others.
Police said that as of Thursday they would begin charging fees for support provided to other authorities or individuals, which could include invoicing child protection authorities or veterinarians. The police payment is not new but has been rarely implemented in the past.
The minister said on Twitter on Thursday that she has issued an urgent order to correct the situation quickly. She added that she is concerned by feedback she has received from municipalities and child protection officials regarding police plans to bill for providing official support in such tasks.
A regulation allowing for police to charge for providing backup services has been in force since 1994, but the revenue stream has been negligible so far, the police board said.
According to the regulation, support duties that are free of charge include tasks related to the Mental Health Act, Civil Service Law, Employment Accident and Occupational Disease Act, implementation of sentences, assistance to defence forces and foreclosure situations.
Police assistance is also needed to protect health care staff in certain situations or to force open doors when child protection authorities search for missing young people, for instance.
Billing could generate millions in revenue
The police receive about 70,000 requests for official assistance each year, and about half of them will be invoiced from now on, they say.
Billing is based on costs — for instance, the hourly rate for two police officers and a car is 165 euros, and for one police officer is 70 euros.