Cooperation between authorities in security services in sparsely populated areas

Cooperation between the authorities is a central method to safeguard emergency response services in sparsely populated areas. However, the jurisdictional boundaries of the authorities and their limited resources often make this cooperation more difficult. The Ministry of the Interior, together with other ministries responsible for security services, should make guidance related to cooperation between authorities in sparsely populated areas clearer and more consistent.

Guaranteeing emergency response services in sparsely populated areas is challenging in terms of emergency care, rescue services and, in particular, the police sector. In growth centres, demand for services is increasing but, at the same time, security services should be guaranteed for the aging population in sparsely populated areas without any unnecessarily long waiting.

Cooperation between the authorities has been encouraged in internal security reports and strategies, as well as in security development projects for sparsely populated areas. The purpose of the audit was to assess how the Ministry of the Interior and the Government have developed and steered cooperation between the authorities in charge of internal security and the planning of security in sparsely populated areas.

It was discovered that the guidance provided for cooperation has not been clear. The Ministry of the Interior actively steered the authorities towards cooperation from 2006 to 2014, after which its level of activity decreased. The goals set by the central government has even been inconsistent: on one hand, they have provided guidance for cooperation and, on the other, they have focused on basic tasks. In the day-to-day activities of the authorities, cooperation is flexible and direct. However, the situation becomes more complicated if they need to carry out tasks on behalf of other authorities. In these situations, the ability of the nearest unit to operate is often limited by jurisdictional boundaries and separate statutory tasks.

Good practices of cooperation have not been monitored, assessed or rooted actively. Straightforward practices and long-term guidance would best support cooperation between regional authorities and their activities. Questions related to the organisation of regional security must be addressed in more detail in future reforms of the local and regional government. To safeguard security, a new way of thinking and bold innovation are also needed.