Finland has a very small «professional» standing army but has a large reserve force. Young men of 18 are expected to do their national service. They have a choice of either doing military service, with or without arms, or community service. This can be for a period of six, nine or 12 months (11 months for officers and non-commissioned officers in reserves). Since 1995, women have been allowed to volunteer for national service. Some people can opt to do national service when they are older. For men, reserve duty continues until at least the age of 50. Conscientious objectors have the right to choose non-military forms of national service.
Defence spending is low relative to other European countries at 1.5 per cent of GDP and 5.5 per cent of the total government budget. The Finnish army has some Swedish-only units. The most notable role that the Finnish army plays is in peacekeeping activities for the United Nations and they serve all over the world.
Finland remains a relatively safe environment. All forms of public transportation are considered safe. Street crimes, such as mugging and pick-pocketing, remain relatively uncommon, but do occur. Due to the low crime rate, Finland has one of the smallest police forces of any European nation. Outside of key urban centres, they rarely project a visible presence. Finnish police services are excellent.
Police are part of national government and operate under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. Local police are supervised by provincial authorities and organised into town police departments and rural police districts. These manage routine police work. The mobile police assist local police where necessary, but they are responsible for traffic safety and riot control and operate at a national level. The security police are there to prevent subversion and espionage. The central criminal police maintain centralised criminal files, mount extensive investigations and keep contact with foreign police forces. The coast guards and border police are charged with the security of the border areas and would have a military role in times of war.
In Case of Emergency
The telephone number for police and other emergency services throughout Finland is 112.
Finland has a programme to provide financial compensation to victims who suffer serious criminal injuries. According to existing regulations, the victim must report the incident to the police and file an application for compensation within ten years of the date of the crime. Finnish police routinely inform victims of serious crime of their right to seek compensation.