New openings in the cooperation between the police and social work in immigrant work

Police officers and social workers are vital actors in the integration process of immigrants. A lot of the integration work is still undertaken separately even though the authorities' tasks intersect at several points in the multicultural community. Professional requirements also increase as the society becomes more multicultural. The clientele increasingly consists of people who have a foreign language as their mother tongue and who come from a different culture. In addition, the immigrants are not always familiar with the service system in the new country. These issues create development needs and the authorities as well as third sector actors must be more able to serve clients who come from different backgrounds.
Integration work is conducted by several different authorities and the successful integration of immigrants demands cooperation between the different actors. The immigrants benefit from the more efficient service processes and the comprehensive managing of their cases. Each immigrant is an individual with his or her unique needs. However, the cooperation between the authorities can be complicated for example because of the rules of concealment of confidential information, legislation that regulates work of the different professionals and various work practices.

The police and social work are willing to engage in closer cooperation, but this depends largely on the financial resources and the human resources available on the local level. The authorities also have to prioritise their everyday work tasks. There is the wish that police stations could employ social workers at least on an on-call basis because experiences from this kind of cooperation have been very positive.
When integration is seen as a two-way process, cooperation between the immigrants, police and social workers is important. For example in Finland, there are only a few police officers and social workers from immigrant background. They would have valuable cultural knowledge that could benefit the integration work. In the immigrant communities, there are contact persons who act as so called cultural interpreters. They have an important role in building trust between the authorities and the immigrants. Individuals can also have very different experiences of e.g. the police in their country of origin and this can have an effect on what they think about the police in their new country of residence.
Apart from the authorities, the third sector is an invaluable actor in immigrant integration. Cooperation between the different partners runs quite smoothly in many cases but there are still things that need to be developed. The third sector organisations say that the authorities could cooperate with them more on a case-by-case basis and make more use of the know-how the organisations have.
The international project Immigrants, Police and Social Work (IPS) has identified good and promising practices of how the integration of immigrants is successfully supported in the different parts of Europe. For example, the successful practices have related to a certain point in the immigrant's life, multi-professional work processes or wider development work that has started from local experiments. Apart from Finland, the IPS project has reported good practices from Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.
Good practices have been created e.g. in the cooperation of authorities working in suburbs, immigrant counselling and service provision, the support of  immigrant minors who have immigrated without their parents, helping immigrant women who have encountered domestic violence, the mentoring activities of the police, child welfare work and supporting of the social inclusion of young immigrants. The good practices collected in the IPS project may act according to the diffusion process of innovations, i.e. it is possible to apply them to new situations and contexts in different countries and their regions.
The society should support active citizenship and integration as a two-way process in which the immigrants are not only objects of the different actions: they should be regarded as crucial actors and social developers.


A link to the study:


Project Planner Sari Vanhanen, 
The Family Federation of Finland





Research director Elli Heikkilä, 
Institute of Migration, Finland





Wagtail – migratory bird

The wagtail is the provincial bird of the Tampere Region

Wagtails are small birds with long tails which they wag frequently. Wagtails are slender, often colourful, ground-feeding insectivores of open country in the Old World. They are ground nesters, laying up to six speckled eggs at a time. Among their most conspicuous behaviours is a near constant tail wagging, a trait that has given the birds their common name.

(source: Wikipedia)