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Police permit services must be accessible without having to make an appointment

"Clients must be able to transact their business with police permit services without having to make an appointment, simply by waiting their turn at a service point,"says Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja.

Complaints received by the Ombudsman and inspections conducted by personnel from the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman have revealed that applications for passports or other documents cannot be handed in at all police stations without making an appointment electronically.

- "Booking an appointment online makes transactions easier, but not everyone is able or willing to use online services or has access to them," the Deputy-Ombudsman points out.
 
In addition, clients should be appropriately informed of what the practice is and told that if they have not made an appointment, they will have to be prepared to wait.

Systems outmoded

Old telephone systems do not facilitate call queuing, something that creates bottlenecks when clients try to contact police permit services.

One example of a badly congested system is the one belonging to the Helsinki police service, although it is now being upgraded. When this work has been completed, it will be possible to queue incoming calls and call back when requested.

The police system for making appointments is likewise obsolete. It can make a so-called ghost appointment with the wrong police station when a client searches the web pages of several stations looking for the earliest possible time. This system is likewise being upgraded.

Ten complaints about administration of permit matters

Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja was adopting a stance on four complaints relating to police permit procedures in Espoo and Helsinki.

In addition to these, six complaints concerning backlogs and long waiting times in the systems used to make appointments with the Oulu, Turku, Vantaa and Keski-Uusimaa police services are also under investigation.

The times needed to queue for appointments to make passport applications vary greatly from one police station to another. In some places an appointment for a time only a few days ahead can be obtained, whereas elsewhere the wait can be as long as about seven weeks.

Additional report requested

Arising from several complaints, Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja has asked the National Police Board to provide him, by 31.10.2013, with a report on long waiting times and the problems that have manifested themselves when collecting a passport from an R-kioski retail outlet.

Additional info will be provided by Legal Adviser Mikko Eteläpää, tel. +358 (0)9-4323359.