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A house search may not be conducted in secret

Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja has issued a reprimand to a Detective-Inspector with the National Bureau of Investigation for conducting house searches in secret.

The law does not permit a house search to be conducted in secret and making notification of it may not be delayed for reasons relating to a criminal investigation or for other reasons.

Armed raid on cash transport truck in the background

In June 2007 the National Bureau of Investigation conducted three searches of a dwelling in an apartment block in Turku. The searches were connected with an armed raid on a cash transport truck in the courtyard of the Bank of Finland's Turku office in February of the same year. The robbers had used the dwelling in conjunction with the raid, in addition to which the police suspected they were planning a new robbery. 

The Deputy-Ombudsman took the National Bureau of Investigation's action under investigation on his own initiative when irregularities had been discovered in conjunction with examination of another matter.

The police had deliberately conducted the house searches in such a way that not even an attempt had been made to give the tenant of the dwelling, the person who took care of paying the rent or the persons who used the dwelling an opportunity to be present at them. On the contrary, the police had carefully made sure, inter alia by means of surveillance, that they did not find out about the searches.

Notification of the house searches was not made to anyone immediately after they had been conducted, either, although the law requires this. It was only five months later, when arrests of suspects in the case were beginning, that  notification was made that the searches had been carried out.

Police did not want to jeopardise investigation

The key point in the police's defence of their action was that the investigation would have been jeopardised if the persons suspected of carrying out the armed raid on the cash transport and who were planning further crimes had obtained information about the police's activities.

However, a house search may not be conducted in secret. The legislator has specifically emphasised that notification of a house search must not be delayed for reasons connected with a criminal investigation or for any other reasons.

The Deputy-Ombudsman also took the view that the matter should have been investigated more thoroughly already in the context of the National Bureau of Investigation's internal oversight of legality.

Also other problems relating to house searches

House searches are a relatively common theme in complaints. Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja will in the near future deal with a dozen complaints concerning the actions of the police in connection with house searches.
 

Additional info will be provided by Senior Legal Adviser Juha Haapamäki, tel. + 358 (0)9 432 3334.