A regional presence is important for Supo information gathering

Both intelligence operations and terrorist activity may be encountered in various parts of Finland.

White peaks and a blue sky.

“You should be working on getting information that others cannot or don’t know how to acquire” is how experienced Supo staff member Kari describes his work in Eastern Finland.  

The information that is so vital to Supo is hard to acquire without a local presence on the ground, so comprehensive representation in various parts of Finland is essential for Supo operations.

Supo is continually engaged in ongoing intelligence operations throughout Finland. Regional offices play an important role in Supo information gathering, because their staff are familiar with local operators and conditions.

These offices are located in Joensuu, Kuopio, Lappeenranta, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Tampere, Turku and Vaasa. They provide bases for handling almost all Supo functions locally.

The threat of intelligence or terrorism is not confined to the Helsinki region

A local presence also enables a rapid reaction. If some point of interest to Supo is near the eastern border, for example, then the location can be reached quickly and familiar border officials will assist.

“We are more likely to get early warning of developments. We wouldn’t necessarily be able to tackle incidents if we always had to start out from Helsinki, for example,” Kari explains.

It is also a lot more difficult to find information sources when working remotely.

Foreign intelligence operations may target various parts of Finland. There is critical infrastructure in every municipality and city. Research projects or key businesses of interest to foreign espionage can be found all over Finland.

The threat of terrorism is similarly not confined to the largest population centres. The Internet plays an increasingly important role in radicalisation, meaning that operations are not bound to any particular place.

People may contact Supo with minimal formality

All Supo offices receive alerts or tip-offs from public authorities, businesses, universities, and other sources. Specialist partners can often provide a valuable overview of phenomena in their fields. They may be well positioned to notice changes – for example, if businesses with a particular profile approach with partnership proposals.

Supo also receives valuable information from members of the public. Kari explains that the threshold for contacting Supo is low. Failing to receive some essential detail is much more serious than having too much information.

“Observations and tip-offs reported in concrete terms are especially useful, as they make it easier to pursue further investigations. So instead of merely telling us about a suspicious vehicle near a critical infrastructure site, for example, it would also be helpful to record key details, such as the colour and registration number of the vehicle,” Kari explains.