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Room for improvement found in police permit services

As yet, not all police stations offer permits-related services that people can avail of without making an appointment. Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja pointed out as early as last August that it should be possible for clients to conduct transactions with police permit services also by waiting in a queue for service.

On that occasion, the Deputy-Ombudsman was issuing his decision on four complaints that the Ombudsman had received. Arising from the new complaints, he requested an explanation from the National Police Board. The service principle that the Administrative Procedure Act calls for and the regulations relating to initiating matters were not being implemented in the services.

The National Police Board supplied its report in October. It stated in the report that it had issued a guideline asking police stations to serve clients also without their having to make an appointment. According to information received by the Ombudsman, however, this has not happened at all of the police stations that have adopted an appointments system.

12 new complaints

Criticisms expressed in the new complaints related to backlogs in the appointment-reservation system for police permit services and the difficulty of using the system. A further criticism was that the only way clients could get to transact matters with the permit services was by reserving a time in advance and that backlogs meant that clients had to opt for a more expensive fast-tracked passport. The manner in which the R-kioski chain of retail kiosks handled the distribution of passports also came in for criticism.

It emerged from the report provided by the National Police Board that at some police stations the earliest an appointment could be reserved through the system was in six weeks' time. In the view of Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja, such a long waiting period is not acceptable. He regarded the maximum waiting period of 2 -3 weeks that the National Police Board had proposed as good.

The National Police Board additionally announced that a new appointment reservation system will be inaugurated in early 2014.

Fast-tracked passport only in case of urgency

The complaints revealed also that at some police stations the only option open to a client in a hurry is to obtain a fast-tracked passport. In the same situation, other stations advise the client to use the normal application procedure, if the timetable seems to permit this.

The National Police Board announced that it had reminded police stations that in all situations other than those of genuine urgency it must be possible to apply for a normal passport.

Distribution of passports through retail kiosks chain going well

It was also revealed in the report provided by the National Police Board that distribution of passports through the R-kioski chain of retail kiosks seemed to be going well. Up to 10 October, 273,620 passports had been handed to clients through the chain and only four of them had gone to the wrong recipients.

Additional info will be provided by legal adviser Mikko Eteläpää, tel. +358 (0)9-432 3359.