Public order officials to get more powers

  • 2023-11-20
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The Estonian interior minister sent to a coordination round a draft, which expands the rights of local public order officials in ensuring security in their territory.

Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said that local governments must be guaranteed sufficient rights and powers to ensure a sense of security in their territory.

"Public order officials already operate in many municipalities today. The problem, however, is that these officials do not have enough legal authority to do their jobs. By expanding the rights and powers, we enable public order officials of local governments to contribute more to ensuring security. The current situation, where there is an official, but there is no legal authority necessary for the job, is unreasonable," Laanemets said.

According to the minister, there are several examples where broader powers allow local public order officials to act more effectively.

"For example, a person falling asleep outside while intoxicated in winter puts their own life at risk with hypothermia, or people who drink alcohol in a public space and thus disturb others' sleep or sense of security. Likewise, polluting public space with waste -- even throwing cigarette butts, which not only looks ugly but also pollutes the environment. In addition, local governments will be given the right to limit excessive noise and light effects on New Year's Eve, the Day of Independence and Victory Day. This allows local governments to restrict fireworks in the immediate vicinity of certain buildings and institutions -- for example, welfare and medical institutions or even the zoo or animal shelters," Laanemets said.

According to Laanemets, cameras or monitoring alone are not enough to increase the sense of security, because there often needs to be an opportunity to actually intervene.

"The current situation, where local public order officials can only bring order with verbal admonitions and otherwise have to call the police, is a partial solution," the minister said.

When granting additional powers, additional requirements are set for the recruitment and health check-up of public order officials. The prerequisite for being appointed as a public order official is to complete the relevant training and obtain a professional certificate.

The appointment of public order officials remains voluntary for municipalities. At the same time, public opinion surveys on internal security, commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior, show that in recent years, more and more residents of Estonia believe that ensuring a sense of security is also significantly influenced by the ability of local governments to shape the environment in terms of security.

The bill will be sent to the government in mid-December.