Report on the experiences of safety and security among vulnerable groups

Mariana Salgado
Oct 22 · 3 min read

As part of the Government Report on Internal Security in the Ministry of the Interior together with my colleagues in the Strategic steering and development unit, we research security among vulnerable groups.

First, we thought a series of co-design workshops in NGOs could be an interesting way to do qualitative research and get actionable results for future work. As covid-19 started on these days, we changed our approach. We proposed to do a visual questionnaire, on paper and send it to vulnerable groups.

This visual questionnaire had many open questions, metaphors, and invite people to give us ideas about the future. This visual questionnaire was inspired by design probes, a design research method. The images below are examples of the questions:

How are, in your opinion, different security agents? Security agents were: police, emergency worker, official, and fireman. Draw a line between the agents and the animals. (The animals as metaphors).
“How do you wish that security agents are in the future?” The list of animals is giraffe, sheep, dog, tiger, and hippo. “Why?”

We used the animals as metaphors in order to later on in the questionnaire be able to ask more open questions and get creative answers. We asked for example how are going to be security agents in the future? Or which kind of gadgets could they be using? From these questions, we got rich and imaginative materials that we have analyzed.

Not only we used design methods to inspire our research but also to analyze the results that we got. I conducted several group sessions to collaboratively analyze the results with the team working on the internal security report, and we visualized results using different tools, as for example word clouds.

Wordcloud (from bigger to smaller): trustable, helpful, alert, predictable, learn new, friendly, protector, etc.

We have already used the results of this report as part of two workshops to plan future services and we draw a list of recommendations, that is part of the report and can be read in the abstract.

This visual questionnaire is a new way to do qualitative research on internal security. This is a concrete example on how design could contribute to policymaking.

In 2020, the Ministry of the Interior prepared a report on internal security aimed at ensuring that Finland will be an even safer country for all people and population groups in the coming years. As part of the preparation of the report, the Ministry of the Interior conducted a questionnaire survey on selected population groups, estimated to be in the most vulnerable position. The purpose of this survey that used service design methods was to map out the safety and security experiences of different groups and to find a human-oriented approach to the development of future services.

While the respondents reported both positive and negative experiences they had had of safety and security authorities, their trust in such authorities was generally good. Among the reported safety and security incidents against the respondents, experiences of discrimination and harassment emerged particularly strongly. The particular wish was expressed that the authorities would provide low-threshold services that are easy to access.

Based on the study, it is recommended that:

  1. Preventive safety and security work and the promotion of overall well-being should be invested in.
  2. Discrimination should be addressed and equality should be promoted effectively.
  3. The needs of vulnerable people should be observed when planning appropriate action.
  4. Internal training should be developed on the basis of the material obtained.
  5. This survey should be repeated in order to obtain comparative data.
  6. The survey should use a wider approach.
  7. Cooperation with various research bodies should be strengthened

On the ministry’s website, there is an article about this report, and Maria Ohisalo, the Minister of the interior wrote a blog about it.

internal security, non-discrimination, equality, service design, vulnerable groups, safety and security authorities, safety and security experiences, trust in authorities, vulnerability, safety and security, public authorities

The report in Finnish can be found in here but we can also be invited to present it in English or Spanish ;-)


Inland is a design and innovation lab.


Inland is a design and innovation lab. Inland Design was part of the Finnish Immigration Service from the year 2017 to 2019. Since the beginning of 2020, the service designers of the Inland Design are working within the Ministry of the Interior.

Mariana Salgado

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Service Design. Ministry of the Interior ( Host in Diseño y diáspora- the podcast on design for social change (


Inland is a design and innovation lab. Inland Design was part of the Finnish Immigration Service from the year 2017 to 2019. Since the beginning of 2020, the service designers of the Inland Design are working within the Ministry of the Interior.