Internal security reserve more expensive than planned ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Toompea lock down exercise
Toompea lock down exercise Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

When Minister of the Interior Mart Helme unveiled a plan for an internal security reserve force for addressing emergency situations this fall, the initial plan was to launch efforts from next year, with the reserve forecast to cost €20 million over four years. The ministry has now completed an analysis of the bill that finds the reserve can be created in 2021 at the earliest and will cost more than initially planned.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs' plan for an internal security reserve has reached the phase of intention to elaborate a draft act that precedes the legislative drafting process. Once interested parties coordinate the plan, the ministry will put together draft legislation and present it for comments and further coordination.

A reserve unit is planned to be created with the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) that would be tasked with responding to emergencies and events that require extensive intervention. Reserve units will be made up of people liable to national defense obligation who have received internal security training. Changes will obligate them to take part in the activities of reserve units. Estonia has roughly 25,000 such people.

The PPA would have police officers respond to mass unrest, with the gap caused by these transfers filled with assistant police officers whom the organizations plans to hire more of and offer better social guarantees.

The original plan put the cost of the internal security reserve at €20 million over four years or roughly €5 million a year. The newly finished analysis would see annual cost hiked to €5.9 million for a total increase of €3.6 million.

The biggest item of expenditure would be fixed costs for equipment, arms and training of reservists. These are expenses tied to readiness checks and reservist training. Mainly equipment and weapons, storing of equipment and weapons, accommodation, catering, medical checkups, benefits, social guarantees etc. for a total of €4.4 million a year.

Added to this will be fixed costs associated with recruiting new assistant police officers of about €1 million a year. Every county will have a squad leader tasked with recruiting new assistant officers, organizing everyday and crisis training and strengthening squad unity and fellowship through daily communication, ensuring increased contribution and preparedness of assistant officers to help the police also in crisis situations.

Planned changes would see the PPA hire people tasked with managing the internal security reserve. New officers would keep a tab on reservists and plan PPA reserve service. These positions are estimated to cost €500,000 a year.

Even though the 2020 state budget does not include funding for the internal security reserve, unlike the initial plan of Minister of the Interior Mart Helme, the ministry's analysis concludes it would not be possible to create the reserve next year even if resources were available. Because the bill would require a number amendments, listening to all sides and coordination would take at least until the second half of next year. This means that amendments could enter into force toward the end of next year at the earliest, with the reform created in 2021.

The planned draft act working group included representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, PPA, Estonian Internal Security Service, Ministry of Defense, Defense League and Rescue Board.

Finnish example

Finland has an internal security reserve. Finland has around 3,000 people who have completed compulsory military service and are at least 35 years of age but are no longer army reservists. These persons, after completing relevant training, have agreed to show up at their local police station to serve as officers in case of a crisis.

Finland is developing a police reserve system made up of people who have completed military service and are 35 or older but one that would have more powers, considering the altered security situation and potential hybrid threat scenarios. The Finnish police and armed forces are analyzing practical solutions and the interior ministry is working on relevant amendments.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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