In its widest sense, criminal policy refers to all actions that have an effect on criminality. Criminal policy includes, for example, decision-making concerning which acts constitute punishable offences, what kind of punishments are imposed for these offences, and how severe these punishments are. In addition to criminal law measures, alcohol policy measures, social and education policy measures, health care service arrangements and urban planning, among other things, affect criminality.
The Finnish criminal policy is based on the idea of a welfare society, according to which securing the wellbeing, education and employment of the population is the cornerstone of a safe society. The basic idea behind this is that people are less likely to commit crimes if they do well.
The objective of criminal policy is to reduce criminality and its harmful effects. Crime prevention efforts are the primary means for achieving this. Another objective is to increase safety and sense of security in society.
Criminal policy is societal decision-making and a societal activity that aims to
- prevent crime,
- maintain a predictable and fair criminal justice system,
- bring offenders to justice,
- enforce criminal sanctions,
- minimise damages and costs caused by criminality, and
- help and support crime victims.
The responsibility for criminal policy rests with several actors and ministries. Under the Government Rules of Procedure, criminal policy, crime prevention and criminal sanctions fall within the mandate of the Ministry of Justice.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for drafting the Criminal Code and the legislation concerning enforcement of punishments. The Ministry steers the enforcement of punishments, is responsible for developing the prosecution service and securing a favourable operating environment for it, and is in charge of tasks related to crime prevention.
The Ministry of Justice strives, within its own administrative branch and through cross-sectoral cooperation, to promote measures that reduce recidivism in order to increase safety in society.