Too Much Energy Spent on Reforms, Says Outgoing Interior Minister ({{commentsTotal}})

Interior Minister Ken-Marti Vaher
Interior Minister Ken-Marti Vaher Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Interior Minister Ken-Marti Vaher (IRL), said he spent too much of the past three years restructuring the ministry and police force, adding that crime levels are at a record low.

In an interview with uudised.err.ee, Vaher, the nation's longest serving interior minister, said the average term of interior ministers has been less than a year since re-independence, and there was much bureaucratic clean-up today.

He said salary and labor structure reforms have been passed, as well responsibilities better divided.

“In brief, I have worked towards decreasing crime in Estonia, saving more people's lives and increasing the motivation of police officers and rescue workers,” Vaher said, adding that crime has dropped by 7 percent in three years, murders by a third.

Other statistics also point towards a safer Estonia, Vaher said, such as a decrease in fatal traffic accidents, fires and drownings. He said more funding and effort has gone towards prevention.

Salaries have increased around 10-15 percent in two years for rescue workers, 20-25 percent for policemen and 24 to 35 percent for criminal investigators.

Perhaps the largest scandal during Vaher's term was the process of naming a new chief of police. The search began in the fall of 2012 when the previous chief resigned after a scandal involving false speeding tickets in 2011 was revealed. 

The current chief, Elmar Vaher (no relation) was named in April 2013 after a number of candidates dropped out, were ruled not suitable or too political.

Minister Vaher received criticism for alienating top police officers by overlooking them and proposing a political candidate who was rejected by the Reform Party.

The minister and his ministry were also grazed by a residence permits scandal where quotas for non-EU businessmen were raised while permits were arranged by a company owned by IRL members.