Irregular influences at prosecutors and judges in Finland and Sweden Kauko Aromaa European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI), with Mika Junninen (HEUNI) and Johanna Skinnari and Lars Korsell (BRÅ)
The Problem • Prosecutors and judges have been observed to be victimised to illegal influence attempts • What is the prevalence and nature of such problems? Standard information sources do not capture this phenomenon • What is the possible role of organised crime in the problem? • Solution: victimisation survey
What is irregular influence • Harassment (libel, molestation, subtle threats that are not illegal threats, or other ways of exerting pressure that are not covered by criminal law) • Threats (illegal threats and similar criminalised acts such as extortion) • Violence (assault and other similar criminalised acts) • Vandalism (arson, damage to property, and similar) • Corruption (promised or offered a bribe or other benefit for carrying out one’s authority functions, bribery) • There could be extra category of ”Other” (e.g. extortion, sexual services, subtle and/or indirect messages…), but in this study we tried to have such cases comprised in the five main categories • All of these may target the civil servant personally, or his/her family or other people close to him/her
Methodology • Electronic anonymous survey targeting all first-level court judges and prosecutors in Finland and Sweden • Simple, short questionnaire • Fieldwork in 2008, reference period last 18 months • N (Finland) = 673 responses out of 1132, response rate 59.5 % • N (Sweden) = 1096 responses out of 1729, response rate 63.4 %
Problems with method • Data protection regulations made it impossible to study the non-response, particularly important because of the low response rate • An earlier study revealed that non-response may indicate lack of interest and non-victimisation but also reluctance to disclose serious problems because of fear or rejection of problem, i.e. the non-response is not random and reduces generalisability of results • Face-to-face interview would be preferrable but was excluded because of the high costs involved, in particular as all judges and prosecutors were the target group
Results The vast majority of the disclosed problem situations were harassment and threats: Type of problem Finland % Sweden % P Jg Ja P Jg Ja Harassment 22.4 16.7 11.0 21.4 10.3 10.7 Threats 9.0 4.9 3.2 8.0 3.1 7.9 Violence 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.5 1.1 Vandalism 0.4 0.4 0.0 1.7 0.8 0.6 Corruption 0.4 0.4 0.0 0.8 0.3 1.1 Family members targeted 2.0 1.9 0.0 1.9 0.5 1.1 P= prosecutors, Jg= general court judges, Ja= administrative court judges
The types of harassment Finland % Sweden % (N=118) (N=170) Phone call, letter, e-mail, sms to workplace 67 43 Signalling 2 9 Report to police, petition etc. 14 8 Indications of being observed, stalking 4 8 Phone call etc. to home 4 5 Other 20 27
The types of threats Finland % Sweden % (N=42) (N=68) Phone call, letter, e-mail, sms to workplace 79 43 In person 7 26 Tips or other secondary information 2 8 Phone call, letter, e-mail, sms to home 5 6 Other 7 15
Who was the harasser Finland % Sweden % (N=118) (N=169) Substance abuser 4.2 3.6 Mentally disturbed person 29.7 21.3 Person in a desperate situation 12.7 15.4 Person who goes to court for the sake of principle 12.7 21.9 Individual criminal without organised crime context 8.5 11.2 Political activist 3.4 3.6 Person from youth gang 0.0 4.7 Person from prison gang 0.8 0.0 Person from biker gang 2.5 4.1 Person from Eastern organised crime 0.0 0.6 Person from other organised crime 1.7 7.1 - Organised crime total 5.0 16.5 Businessperson 1.7 1.2 Unknown, someone else, no answer 22.0 5.3
Who made the threat Finland % Sweden % (N=41) (N=65) Substance abuser 9.8 3.1 Mentally disturbed person 34.1 21.5 Person in a desperate situation 4.9 6.2 Person who goes to court for the sake of principle 9.8 12.3 Individual criminal without organised crime context 4.9 15.4 Political activist 0.0 6.2 Person from youth gang 0.0 3.1 Person from prison gang 0.0 0.0 Person from biker gang 4.9 7.7 Person from Eastern organised crime 0.0 0.0 Person from other organised crime 2.4 15.4 - Organised crime total 7.3 26.2 Businessperson 4.9 0.0 Unknown, someone else, no answer 24.3 9.3
Was the harassment reported to someone Finland % Sweden % (N=118) (N=161) Superior 40 62 Colleague 75 58 Family 19 33 Security chief 3 19 Friend 10 16 Police 9 14 Staff or union representative 0 3 Other 6 4
Was the threat reported to someone Finland % Sweden % (N=40) (N=63) Superior 48 65 Colleague 78 38 Family 18 35 Security chief 5 30 Friend 10 16 Police 20 30 Staff or union representative - 2 Other 8 5
What was done about the problem In many instances, action has been taken recently in order to improve the security. Examples include a new security plan, improving internal communication about the issue, new instructions on physical protection, guidelines for uniform reporting, and new external cooperation (e.g. with police). However, in most workplaces no concrete changes had as yet been introduced.
Conclusions (1) • Irregular/unlawful influence is not uncommon: The prevelance of harassment victims ranged from 10 to 20 %, of victims of threats from 3 to 9 %. • It is however officially less known: only 10% of harassment and 20-30 % of threats were reported to police • The influence is mostly harassment and threats – other types of irregular influence violence, vandalism, corruption etc. are rare, victimisation prevalences ranging from 0 to 2 %. • Also, family members are targeted only rarely • The overall pattern is very similar in both countries
Conclusions (2) • The means applied are mostly telephone, mail, e-mail, sms; threats are also often made in person. • Some incidents are very severe. However, mostly no immediate harm is done. • The impact on the work atmosphere is considerable. Also, irregular influence is often successful in terms of causing delays and uneasiness • Organised criminals are doing this relatively often – more often in Sweden (17% of harassers and 26 % of those making threats) than in Finland (5% and 7%). This means that the idea of trying to ”measure” organised crime withe the survey makes sense.
Conclusions (3) • In both countries, the respondents felt that the matter had not been dealt with adequately and had not been taken seriously enough. In this respect, the situation was deemed to be a bit better in Sweden than in Finland. • In both countries, there is still much that can be done in terms of enhancing prevention. • Many respondents believed that the situation is going to grow worse • The civil servants concerned have concrete suggestions as to what could be done when designing counter-measures