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Finland’s youth crime up by 300 percent between 2015 and 2021

The Finnish government has implemented an action plan to curb youth crime, with violence by children under 15 increasing by 300 percent between 2015 and 2021.

Minister of Justice Leena Meri says that membership of a gang and violence on social media will now be considered grounds for punishment as aggravated crimes.

While a youth punishment code already exists in Finland, it has not been widely used so far. A youth may not consider a suspended sentence without probation control a punishment at all, Meri said.

People under 15 do not have criminal responsibility in Finland, and cannot be detained or sentenced. Recently, a school shooting carried out by a 12-year-old shocked the nation.

Ville Hinkkanen, director general at the Division for Criminal Law and Policy at the Ministry of Justice, said that the action program would focus on crime suspects and risk groups.

The government will investigate a legal framework for briefly detaining suspects aged under 15, or imposing a travel ban on such children.

A rehabilitation program for minors, to be arranged in closed institutions, is also being developed.

Last month it was reveled that criminal networks in neighboring Sweden have 14,000 active members, with a further 48,000 individuals having gang connections, according to a recent report released by the Swedish Police.

Ninety-five percent of active gang members are men, while 88 percent are Swedish citizens. The new total of 62,000 people linked to gangs is more than double the previous estimate of 30,000. Last year, 363 shootings in Sweden — most thought to be gang-related — resulted in 53 deaths, according to statistics released by the Swedish Police.

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