Sexual offenses seem to be concentrated in the metropolitan area. However, police emphasize that taxi traffic is still largely safe.
Taxi Association keep information on the increase in suspected sexual offenses committed by taxi drivers in Helsinki shocking. In the union’s view, the situation is largely due to the 2018 taxi reform.
“The reports of sexual offenses are shocking and unpleasant for the taxi industry, which relies on consumer confidence. If consumers do not trust the industry, taxis will not be used, ”says the CEO of the Taxi Association Timo Koskinen.
It has become easier to become a taxi entrepreneur since the 2018 taxi reform. According to Koskinen of the Taxi Association, it is now also showing an increase in sexual offenses.
“The situation is very unpleasant,” says Koskinen.
Police Board is currently investigating the situation of taxi-related sexual offenses in the whole country. The information published on Wednesday only applies to Helsinki.
Sexual offenses suspected by taxi drivers seem to be concentrated in the Helsinki metropolitan area, says Police Board Inspector Pekka Heikkinen.
“Some other big cities have individual sexual offenses. These have usually been harassment-type cases. Then there are also police departments where there have been no cases in the area, ”says Heikkinen.
According to him, not all drivers suspected of sexual offenses have driven official taxis, but there are also dark taxis among them.
Helsinki police informed on Wednesday that taxi drivers have been suspected more often of sexual offenses in the capital in recent years. Police are investigating, among other things, a case in which a 30-year-old man is suspected of raping a young woman after a taxi ride last Saturday.
The number of suspected crimes has increased since the summer of 2018.
“The increase in cases seems to have a pretty clear temporal link to taxi reform,” says the Helsinki Police Criminal Inspector Jari Koski.
The Helsinki Police Department has not investigated the number of suspicions of taxi drivers before 2017, but according to Kosken’s estimates, the numbers have not been as high as in recent years.
“I’ve been doing this for 28 years, and I don’t remember that such a phenomenon would have sparked a debate in the past,” Koski says.
When two suspected sexual offenses committed by a taxi driver came to the attention of the Helsinki police in 2017, more than twenty have been reported this year.
Helsinki the police investigation covers suspected aggravated rape, rape, attempted rape, coercion into sexual activity, and sexual harassment.
A case counted as one sexual offense in statistics may contain more than one criminal title. According to Jari Koski, for example, the driver may have been guilty of sexual harassment first and later rape in connection with the same taxi ride.
According to police, taxi drivers suspected of sexual offenses are mainly of foreign background. In only one of the cases in 2019–2021 is the driver of Finnish origin.
However, the identity and background of the suspects in all suspected crimes have not been revealed to the police.
The forensic inspector Koski reminds that only a part of the suspected sexual offenses committed by taxi drivers will probably come to the attention of the police.
Police urge all victims or witnesses of sexual offenses to contact their authorities.
Police emphasizes that taxi services are still largely safe. Crime cases affect only a very small proportion of taxi passengers and drivers.
Koskinen of the Taxi Association regrets that individual abusers have caused significant damage to the reputation of the entire industry.
“Most taxi operators and drivers are customer service professionals and well-educated,” says Koskinen.
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