Strasbourg, 28 January 2016
CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN PROSECUTORS(CCPE)
Answers from Finland (Dnro 11/53/16)
1. Does the prosecution service in your country work strategically with ensuring quality in the work of prosecutors? If yes, how is that done?
The Finnish Prosecution Service’s performance guidance system sets out the organisation’s quality targets which are monitored annually. The Service has a system of specialised prosecutors, which is used to monitor the management of particularly demanding criminal cases.
While the Finnish Prosecution Service has not yet adopted quality management, widely used elsewhere, work is underway to introduce a quality management system. Detailed process descriptions will be drawn up and quality management will become an integral part of organisational management. The existing system of specialized prosecutors will also be developed further, especially focusing on the monitoring and improvement of quality.
2. Which criteria are considered crucial in your country for securing the highest quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors: their independence, impartiality, human and material resources, conditions of work etc.? Please briefly describe.
Independence of prosecutors: The independence of prosecutors is provided in legislation (the Constitution and the Act on the Prosecution Service). According to these acts, the prosecutor’s decision is based on his or her consideration alone, and no other body has the right to intervene with the prosecutor's decision, the only exception being the Prosecutor General who may take over the consideration of a case from a subordinate. In such a case, the responsibility for dealing with the case is transferred to the Prosecutor General in full. In Finland, the prosecutors’ decisions are not hierarchical and a prosecutor always makes decisions independently.
Impartiality of prosecutors: In Finland, the prosecutors’ decision profiles, i.e. whether they provide consistent, impartial solutions for cases that are similar to each other, are closely monitored. A system has been set up which the central administrative authority (Office of the Prosecutor General) and each local prosecutor’s office can access to monitor the prosecutors’ decision profiles digitally in real time (on daily basis if necessary).
Impartiality of the prosecutors’ activities is also monitored with the help of general instructions given by the Prosecutor General and by the management group of the Finnish Prosecution Service (with representatives from the central administrative office and the local prosecutors’ offices). Furthermore, the ethical guidelines of the Finnish Prosecution Service steer and influence the assessment of the prosecutors’ work.
Complaints against the decisions made by the prosecutor can be addressed to the central administrative authority, the Office of the Prosecutor General. The complaint rulings will have an impact to the quality of the prosecutor’s work.
Human resources: The prosecutor recruitment process seeks to select individuals who can contribute to the Service efficiently and demonstrate high quality work. The Finnish Prosecution Service uses a multi-level training system to help prosecutors enhance their professional skills.
The workload of each prosecutor can be monitored in real time with the help of digital statistics. If deviations are found, the matter will be investigated.
Material resources: The most important resource of the Finnish Prosecution Service is its people. Consequently, most of the Service’s appropriations are allocated to employee pay. Due to the current state of central government finances, the Prosecution Service’s operational appropriations have also faced cuts in recent years, making it difficult to increase the human resource allocation. However, quality of the prosecutors’ work must not suffer. Instead, we seek to improve our operations, for example by significantly investing in digitalisation.
Working conditions: The Finnish Prosecution Services is committed to looking after our employees’ wellbeing at work. Our actions have a major positive effect on the quality and the efficiency of the prosecutors’ work. Continuous development of working methods is vital. Good tools and premises also make a big difference. The Service has a flexible attitude towards remote working.
3. Are there any indicators, formal or informal, used in your country in order to assess the quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors, for example, the number of cases considered, the length of the consideration, the complexity of the cases considered etc.? Please briefly describe.
The Finnish Prosecution Service employs performance guidance indicators which measure productivity and economy. We also systematically monitor the prosecutors’ decision profiles (i.e. the prosecutors’ course of action in similar matters) and the processing times of cases which the prosecutors’ have taken up for consideration. The cases are classified according to their average workload and degree of difficulty (competence classification). In demanding criminal cases, special monitoring takes place concerning, for example, the time taken for the consideration of charges. The matters mentioned above can be monitored digitally in real time by the central administrative authority and the local office.
Unofficial indicators include the supervisors’ reports on the quality and efficiency of the prosecutors’ work. Supervisors monitor these matters as part of their role, and they often provide the best overview of the situation since they work closely with the individual prosecutors.
4. Is there a formal or informal procedure for evaluation of the work of prosecutors, how often it is evaluated, by whom, and with what consequences? Do the prosecutors have the right to raise formal or informal objections to the results of the evaluation and to its consequences?
While the Finnish Prosecution Service has not yet adopted a systematic evaluation system, the quality management system currently underway will include one. Currently, evaluation is carried out mainly by the supervisors and the department head, and the observations are discussed in the meetings of the local offices and the central administrative authority.
Prosecutors will always be given an opportunity to respond to the observations of their work, in a discussion with the supervisor. The Service does not have a formal complaints procedure.
If the matter concerns the management of a criminal case, the Prosecutor General, who is at the top of the supervision hierarchy of prosecutors, can take over the consideration of the case from an individual prosecutor. The prosecutor whose case has been taken over is released from the case management and any related responsibilities. This decision cannot be appealed.
When the prosecutor’s activities are assessed in accordance with the law of public servants and a sanction at a certain level, such as a warning, has been given to the prosecutor, he or she has the right to appeal against the sanction in court.
5. As regards the fight against organised crime and terrorism, are there any specific conditions, criteria, procedures or indicators created for prosecutors in your country in order to:
- facilitate their work?
Resources are committed to prosecutor training. Organised crime and terrorist offences have been assigned specialized prosecutors who mainly deal with these cases. Specialized prosecutors receive in-depth training in this area. They have regular meetings and training events and communicate with the pre-trial investigation authorities and specialists investigating organised crime and terrorism. They also attend relevant international meetings and participate in prosecutor networks. The above measures take place in order to ensure high-level professionalism of prosecutors, guarantee the quality of their work and improve effectiveness.
With regard to terrorist offences, the prosecutors’ training has only just started to develop in Finland. Until 2015, Finland had not had any suspects of terrorist offences. Since the situation has now changed to a certain degree, prosecutors are receiving training in the subject.
- evaluate their work?
See Answer 4. The prosecutors’ work is also assessed in the specialized prosecutors’ regular meetings in which they analyse the court judgments in cases involving organised crime, ensuring that all specialized prosecutors are informed of the case law. The specialized prosecutor function can enhance the quality and effectiveness of the prosecutors’ work. Best practice and any problems that have been observed are highlighted, and prosecutors can be advised to refresh their professional skills.
The Finnish Prosecution Services has not accumulated any experience in dealing with terrorist offences as of yet.
6. Are there in your country recent legislative reforms to fight more effectively against organised crime and terrorism and how are these reforms seen in relation to the quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors? Please briefly describe.
Organised crime: The Finnish Criminal Code standardised the definitions for organised crime in 2015. This has facilitated the consideration by prosecutors and harmonised the practices. Specialized prosecutors who deal with organised crime cases follow the legal practice of the courts and report it to the Office of the Prosecutor General. Based on their observations, the quality of the prosecutors’ work can be assessed.
Terrorist offences: Concerning terrorist offences, Finland has implemented comprehensive legislation which complies with international treaties. The latest amendments to the Criminal Code were effected in 2014 when training for the purpose of committing terrorist offences, recruitment for the commission of a terrorist offence and funding of terrorist offences were criminalised.
7. Do you consider that current international conventions, as well as international organisations, like Eurojust, Europol and Interpol, are sufficient to effectively fight against organised crime and terrorism?
The organised crime definition used in the Finnish Criminal Code is now closer to the definitions of international treaties. In this regard, the situation has improved. With the exception of the definition of organised crime, no major problems have been observed in legal practice regarding differences between the international treaties and national legislation. No Finnish case law exists for terrorist offences.
The Finnish prosecutors have very positive experiences of the assistance they have received from Eurojust. While they are actively collaborating with Eurojust, very little cooperation take place with Europol and Interpol since these institutions mainly serve the law enforcement authorities.
Eurojust has significantly advanced the coordination of criminal investigations and prosecution by organising several transnational coordination meetings, funding the activities of joint research teams and, with Europol, establishing coordination centres used by the authorities in different countries to carry out urgent measures in real time in order to solve crimes. Eurojust has expedited matters related to mutual legal assistance and extradition of offenders.
Eurojust holds specialist meetings and seminars which improve the prosecutors’ professional competences. Under the Eurojust umbrella there are several specialist prosecutor networks, such as the terrorism network and joint investigation team network. Since the network members are involved in the practice of prosecution, participation enhances the prosecutors’ knowledge and skills and improves the quality of their work.
The more Eurojust commits its resources to assisting to solve serious transnational crime in the member states, the better it can contribute to the effectiveness of criminal procedures.
Europol is, first and foremost, an analytical unit. High-quality and timely analytical data on crime suspects or new criminal phenomena is important so as to initiate pre-trial investigations efficiently and to prepare for new criminal phenomena in time.
8. What are the major challenges in your country as regards the quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors and, in particular, their fight against organised crime and terrorism?
Currently, our development priority is to finalise the national, systematic quality management and evaluation system. The work has commenced.
Some challenging issues:
- Successful recruitment of prosecutors
- Sufficiency and correct allocation of resources
- Maintenance and improvement of the professional skills of prosecutors
- Effective cooperation between the authorities in national and transnational crime investigation
- Ability to ensure that the prosecutors' work uniformity (the prosecutors make consistent decisions in similar cases)
- Preparedness for new criminal phenomena