Implementation of Anchor work

Process description of Anchor work

The adolescent’s Anchor process begins when a professional, the adolescent or someone close to the adolescent becomes concerned about the adolescent and reports this concern to one of the parties involved in the team (Figure 1). Usually, the adolescent is referred to Anchor work through the police, social services, the school or another educational institution. The cases referred to Anchor work are discussed by a multi-professional team, and the selection is carried out in collaboration with other professionals, if required. The adolescent’s situation is examined multi-professionally, and an Anchor meeting is agreed with the adolescent and their family or friends. The purpose of the meeting is to outline the overall situation and need of support of the adolescent and their family. The primary duty of the Anchor team is to ensure that the adolescent receives the appropriate support in the form of service referral, for example.

The adolescent’s Anchor process proceeds according to the common model described in this manual. As the main goal is to address the adolescent’s needs and individual situation, the process can also be deviated from, where necessary. Anchor meetings are agreed according to the adolescent’s individual need, and the main focus is on charting the situation and providing suitable service referral.

Figure 1. Process description of Anchor work Figure 1 describes the progression of the Anchor work process. The process starts with contacting someone in the Anchor team and continues by selecting customers. Meetings will be held during the process and the need for further work will be examined. The process ends with directing the adolescent to additional work or stating that there is no need for it.

Launching the Anchor process

Clients and age limits of Anchor work

Anchor work is intended for persons who

  • are under 18 and
  • have committed or are suspected of a crime and/or
  • have used drugs and/or substances and/or
  • show signs of violent radicalisation or extremism and/or
  • need multi-professional support in their situation, e.g. in cases involving domestic violence.

Anchor work is about early intervention, and its target group mainly comprises children and adolescents under the age of 18 who have committed crime or use substances. Anchor work intervenes with the adolescent’s criminal behaviour and other disturbing behaviour, which does not necessary exceed the threshold of reporting a crime but where the need for multi-professional support has been identified. Anchor work also supports adolescents and their families if they need multi-professional support for their situation, for example in cases of domestic violence.

Selecting and inviting customers

It is usually the police, social services or schools and educational institutions that refer adolescents to Anchor work, but the requisite information can also be received from the participating organisations, partners or family and friends. Therefore, it is important that other stakeholders in the area are aware of Anchor work and the support it offers. Schools and educational institutions are key stakeholders in Anchor work, as they are capable of identifying adolescents in need of support and referring them to Anchor work. The adolescent or their family can also contact the Anchor team directly.

The initiation of the adolescent’s Anchor process is agreed in multi-professional collaboration. The selection is carried out at Anchor team meetings attended by the whole team. This makes it possible to create an overview of the adolescent’s situation at the beginning of the process. In addition, it means the decision does not depend on the consideration of an individual professional.

The adolescent and their parents or guardians are invited to the Anchor meeting through a phone call to the parents – or the adolescent if they are of age. If the parents or guardians cannot be reached by phone, they can also be invited by mail. In the invitation, the adolescent and the parents or guardians are informed why, how and when the meeting will be arranged (Appendix 1). The parents and guardians are invited to attend the first meeting. In addition, the invitation describes Anchor work, the Anchor team and the principles of information exchange. The Anchor team agrees among themselves who will invite the adolescent and their parent or guardian to the Anchor meeting. Often the inviting party is the police, especially if the meeting is due to the adolescent being suspected of crime.

Planning and course of meetings

Preparing meetings

The Anchor team members agree before the meeting who will invite the adolescent, their parents or guardians and other participants, whether the whole team or only some of its members will attend the meeting, what themes will be discussed during the meeting, and which of the professionals will deal with a particular topic. Other matters to be agreed include booking a place for the meeting and deciding who has the main responsibility for the adolescent’s case and who will record the meetings.

The Anchor meeting is attended by the adolescent, their parent or guardian and the Anchor team or some of the team’s professionals. The adolescent’s parents/guardians are present at the first meeting and also at further meetings if required. In addition to the Anchor team’s professionals, other stakeholders can be present at the meetings. They are selected and invited based on the adolescent’s consent and according to their individual situation. Examples of such professionals are the school’s or educational institution’s representatives and any social worker previously assigned to the adolescent in other services.

Anchor meetings are mainly arranged during office hours. Meetings can also be arranged in the evenings or at weekends if the situation of the adolescent and their family calls for it. The duration of the meeting is approximately 1–2 hours.

As a rule, Anchor meetings are arranged at police departments, though further meetings can also take place elsewhere, depending on the case. The meetings can also be arranged on the premises of the participating organisations, at school or in a café or on third sector premises. The place must be quiet and ensure the privacy of the adolescent.

Consent for information exchange

The goal of Anchor work is to support the adolescent and their parents or guardians in promoting the adolescent’s wellbeing. Anchor work is based on respect for the adolescent’s involvement, right to self-determination and privacy. Therefore, the adolescent and, where necessary, the parent or guardian, is requested to provide consent for exchanging information in the Anchor team and for handling the matter in the multi-professional team. (For more information, see section Further information about legislation.)

Requesting the adolescent’s consent

The consent covers information about the adolescent, incident, and the recipient of the consent, as well as the period for which the consent is valid. With the consent, the adolescent confirms that they have given the consent voluntarily and that they have received enough information about Anchor work and the multi-professional exchange of information carried out in Anchor, as well as the confidential nature of Anchor work. The consent is issued in writing (Appendix 2) and saved as part of client data, i.e. in the system where the rest of the adolescent’s data are stored. The adolescent has the right to withdraw the consent.

It should be noted that in some respects there is no age limit for the adolescent’s right to self-determination. The Anchor team considers whether the adolescent’s consent is enough or whether the consent of their parents or guardians is also required.

Situations in which information is exchanged without the adolescent’s consent

If no consent is obtained from the adolescent, the Anchor team determines how to implement any statutory measures that can be carried out without the adolescent’s consent (e.g. criminal and child welfare cases), and ensures that the adolescent receives support through other service routes. In such cases, an entry will be documented in the adolescent’s data indicating that the adolescent has been contacted but that no consent was obtained for participation in Anchor work. The entry is documented in the systems in which the rest of the adolescent’s data are stored. This is also important for the legal protection of the Anchor team professionals.

However, the adolescent’s consent is not requested in cases where the reason for the meeting is a matter for whose processing no consent is required by law. In situations where consent is not needed, the situation and grounds are nevertheless explained to the adolescent, and the importance of the matter is discussed.

Content and course of meeting

The purpose of the Anchor meeting is to find the means and types of support for promoting the adolescent’s wellbeing and preventing crime. This requires recognising and surveying the adolescent’s situation (Appendix 3). An extensive survey ensures that the adolescent’s situation is outlined comprehensively and from a variety of perspectives. Discussion between the family members and other participants is also supported at the meeting.

The Anchor meeting starts by first stating the persons present and their roles. Although the principles of Anchor work and the exchange of information have been described in the invitation to the meeting, they are discussed once more at the meeting.

At the Anchor meeting, the adolescent, their parents or guardians and professionals can tell about the incident in their own words. It is important to hear the adolescent and their description of what has happened. The professionals explain what the incident means from a legislative point of view and what consequences it has or could have had. The Anchor team professionals outline the adolescent’s situation, including their health, wellbeing and family situation as well as friends, pastimes and possible use of substances.

The purpose of the discussions is to develop a joint understanding of the matters at hand. The parents are also encouraged to participate in the discussion even though the main emphasis is on the adolescent. It is important that the adolescent and their parents or guardians feel that they are heard. This makes it easier to talk about matters and also supports agreeing on matters, recognising needs for change and launching further work. Another goal of the meeting is to help the parents or guardians support the adolescent’s positive development and help them avoid harmful actions. The adolescent’s possibilities to adopt behaviour that supports their wellbeing improve when they feel they have been heard and that they are safe.

After discussing the incident, the participants jointly consider the kinds of concrete things that they can do to support the adolescent. If required, a new meeting is set up or the adolescent is referred to another service. Service referral means ensuring that a meeting is booked for the adolescent in the service and, where necessary, accompanying the adolescent to the meeting. This means that an Anchor team professional accompanies the adolescent in the first meeting in other services. The Anchor meeting is terminated in a positive, encouraging atmosphere. In addition, the adolescent and their parents or guardians are advised to contact the Anchor team professionals should the need arise, and the team ensures that the adolescent and the parents or guardians know how to contact them in the future.

Course of Anchor meetings

Starting the meeting:

  • The participants and their roles are presented
  • Anchor work and information exchange are described
  • The goals of the meeting are discussed
  • The adolescent’s consent is requested

Discussing the incident and investigating the need for support:

  • The adolescent is given the chance to explain what happened: why, how, who was involved, where and when
  • The responsibilities and the legal consequences of the incident are discussed: possible consequences, liability for damages, criminal liability
  • The adolescent’s situation is outlined: health, family situation, school, friends, leisure time, substance use, online risk behaviour
  • The parents’ or guardians’ views are heard

Ending the meeting:

  • An action plan is prepared on the concrete steps the adolescent, their parents or guardians and the participating professionals can take
  • A next visit is agreed or the adolescent is referred to further services
  • The meeting is ended with a discussion about the adolescent’s strengths and positive aspects
  • The adolescent and their parents or guardians are encouraged to contact the Anchor team professionals, if required.

Assessing the client’s situation

The Anchor team jointly prepares a comprehensive and individual assessment of the adolescent’s situation. To create the overview, information on the adolescent’s situation and background is collected from different professional groups. It is very important to meet the adolescent, and an overview cannot be created on the basis of mere telephone conversations, for example. The parents’ or guardians’ viewpoint is also taken into consideration in the overview. A comprehensive picture of the adolescent’s situation and need for support is formed based on the views of the multi-professional team, the adolescent and their parents (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Creating an overview of Anchor work
Figure 2 describes interaction between different actors, adolescent and their parents or guardians. The end result is a comprehensive picture of incident and their family's wellbeing, resources and need for support.


The adolescent’s situation is assessed in Anchor work. The situation is assessed together with the adolescent based on the principles of Anchor work. The adolescent’s need for social services can also be assessed in Anchor work if agreed locally. The principles of assessment can be adapted, and collaboration is also pursued with other social services, even if no decision has been made on an official assessment of service needs. The goal of the service needs assessment is to identify the adolescent’s need for support. A variety of methods and forms can be used to help the assessment of the adolescent’s overall situation, health and violence (Table 12).

Several methods and forms (Appendix 12) have been developed to support the assessment of the threat of radicalisation and extremism, but the early identification of such a threat is nevertheless challenging. What makes the identification and prevention of radicalisation and extremism so challenging is that the phenomenon is multi-dimensional and impossible to predict.

The digitalisation trend has accelerated growth in cross-border cybercrime. Young people and minors are over-represented in cybercrime statistics in both Finland and other countries. As regards cybercrime, the risk assessment models for offenders are still in many ways under development. Especially the increase in Crime-as-a-Service, meaning the growing market for automated crime tools and services, adds a further challenge to the identification of groups at risk.

What this means in practice is that committing cybercrime no longer requires technological skills, and children and adolescents have easy access to instructions and services for committing various types of crime.

Anchor plan and data documentation

The Anchor plan means that individual future goals are agreed with each adolescent and practical methods for reaching the goals are defined. The plan also contains a description of the actions that the professionals will take in order to help the adolescent reach the goals. The implementation of the plan is monitored in possible future meetings and/or by phone with the adolescent and their parents or guardians. If no need for further support or meetings is found, a discussion is still carried out to agree, for example, how the parents can support the adolescent’s wellbeing and what the adolescent should do.

The Anchor team professionals record the adolescent’s Anchor meetings in their information systems in accordance with the legislation and instructions concerning their occupational group and the field.

Preparing statistics of the meetings, Extranet for Anchor work

The Extranet for Anchor work was completed in late 2020, early 2021. The goal of the system is to provide information that is comparable and collected according to the same principles. This requires all the operators to follow a harmonised documentation practice and instructions. The system also includes instructions for completing the form.

The Extranet is designed for use by Anchor operators. The idea is that the Extranet information collection will provide quantitative data about the clients of Anchor work, the work itself and its impact. The Anchor Extranet reporting provides numeric data about the information collected through the statistics form. The information covered by reporting is available to all the registered operators.

Information collected through the form is needed at different levels of administration and operations control. Reporting produces quantitative information about Anchor work and its clients. It can be used to steer local and regional operations, handle the obligations and performance specified in regional agreements between municipalities, and provide justification for the operators’ work and its necessity. At the national level, this information can be used to manage operations, justify resourcing among different parties and examine operations. To ensure accountability, it is necessary that the results and volume of work can be described reliably. The information collected can also be used to support research concerning Anchor work.

Each Anchor team member registers as an Extranet user at They then get a personal user ID for the service. Strong authentication is used for system login. The police and other users of the VIRTU service portal log in to the system using VIRTU authentication, while other users use an SMS certificate.

The information collection form must be completed after each meeting with a client. The team members agree among themselves who will complete the form. It is important to complete the form soon after the meeting to ensure the information is as truthful as possible. The form is not used to collect identifying information about the client, and it is not possible to edit the form later. Detailed instructions for completing the form are available in the Extranet.

Details recorded in the statistics about Anchor meetings


  • Name of Anchor
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Whether the client is under the age of 15
  • Adult client
  • Place of residence
  • Whether a child welfare notification has been made
  • Whether the client has a history in child welfare or social welfare services
  • Whether the child or adolescent has a hobby
  • Whether the hobby, if any, takes place under guidance
  • Whether the child or adolescent belongs to any group of young people that may be gang-related
  • Whether the client is involved in Anchor work for the first time
  • If the client is not a new client, the number of times they have participated in the Anchor service
  • The topic of the meeting
  • Whether the incident has taken place under the influence of substances
  • The client’s role

Service in Anchor work

  • How was information about the adolescent received? (You can choose several options)
  • Referral to further services: Was the client referred to a service after the Anchor meeting?
  • Who was present at the meeting? What composition of the Anchor team met with the client


  • Response time of the Anchor team (weekdays from the notification to the first meeting)
  • How did the team work with the client?
  • Future plan for the client
  • Whether the adolescent is sorry for their action; the adolescent’s own assessment
  • Whether the adolescent is sorry for their action; the employees’ assessment
  • Whether the adolescent benefited from the meeting, the employees’ assessment after the meeting
  • Number of individuals refusing Anchor services per year, under the age of 15/over the age of 15

Collaboration related to Anchor work

  • Anchor coffee gatherings, number of events per year
  • Anchor coffee gatherings, number of participants per year
  • Anchor stakeholder meetings, number of meetings per year
  • Anchor stakeholder meetings, number of participants per year

Ending meetings and service referral

From the Anchor meeting the adolescent is referred to suitable, more long-term services, if required. In this respect, the Anchor serves as a transition phase where the need for individual support is determined and the adolescent is referred to appropriate services. Parties providing further care and support include stakeholders and various partners (for more information, see section Stakeholders' role in Anchor work).

The decision to end Anchor meetings is made jointly with the adolescent, their parents or guardians and the Anchor team professionals. This is usually done when no new concerning incidents occur or no risk of such incidents is identified, incidents have been resolved or the adolescent becomes the customer of child welfare services, for example. It is important to determine any need for possible help and support and to refer the adolescent to such further support and help if required.

Other tasks of the Anchor team

In addition to the traditional discussions, the multi-professional Anchor team also performs tasks that promote regional awareness of Anchor activities and enable interaction with adolescents. Grassroots work among young people at various events and during holidays and festivities, as well as work carried out in schools and educational institutions bring the operators closer to young people. Anchor coffee gatherings make the operations better known to people and boost networking and information exchange, while collaboration with schools and educational institutions are important for the operations and collaboration.

The Anchor team’s grassroots efforts

The Anchor team’s presence among young people has been found to be a good practice. The team can take part in events and gatherings in its area that young people frequent. While this approach includes a supervisory element, it is also important for the team to be present in the same places as adolescents. This helps adolescents get to know the Anchor operators and vice versa.

The operators move in “field shifts”, usually in police cars with two police officers. The police officers are not on call – the focus of activities is to go out and be among young people. The team’s presence alone has a calming effect, but if required, the patrol can also intervene in any problems they come across. The team’s presence at events also makes it easier to intervene in incipient problems. Incidents can be tackled quickly, and events can be addressed before they escalate.

Discussions carried out with young people during these activities are valuable for Anchor operations but also for building trust among adolescents. Unofficial encounters and interaction bring the operators closer to adolescents, making future interaction easier. It is easier for adolescents to approach operators familiar to them, and this lowers the threshold for participating in Anchor operations.

The Anchor team members must wear uniform clothing, such as vests with professional badges, when in the field (e.g. at events). This helps adolescents distinguish the team members from other operators. Each operator’s organisation is responsible for acquiring the clothing.

Anchor coffee gatherings

Anchor operations are carried out in multi-professional collaboration both locally and regionally. The Anchor teams are surrounded by many professionals, both authorities and volunteers, working with the same target group. Collaboration with stakeholders and partners is based on mutual appreciation, respect and information sharing concerning regional operations and the target groups’ special characteristics. The tasks of all Anchor team professionals include collaboration with other parties.

Collaboration with stakeholders can be promoted through regular communication. Regular contacts and face-to-face meetings help operators get to know one another, which makes it easier to work together and share information about topical matters. Anchor coffee gatherings bring operators under the same roof to discuss current topics and regional phenomena. It is important to share information about regional challenges or phenomena among operators as early as possible.

Current topics can be presented at the gathering, but as a rule, it is a very informal, conversational event. The main point is to have the participants interact freely and get to know operators they may not meet in their daily work. The discussions also give rise to new forms of collaboration and innovations.

The coffee gatherings provide a good opportunity to make Anchor operations better known. Invitations are sent to all the operators identified in the area, including organisations. The invitees can pass on the invitations to help reach parties that the Anchor team has not yet identified. It is also important to be aware of changes among organisations and annually approach new operators.

Anchor coffee gatherings can also be arranged remotely or virtually. The Teams application, for example, is suitable for this purpose, although the online environment limits interaction and the meeting of new people.

Collaboration with schools and educational institutions

Collaboration between the Anchor team and schools and educational institutions in the area is important. Many of the adolescents participating in Anchor work come through schools, and collaboration with educational institutions is considered valuable. The staff of schools and educational institutions meet adolescents daily, which helps recognise any worrying symptoms at an early stage. This makes it possible to address the adolescent’s situation before problems escalate.

Open dialogue is an important form of operations with schools and educational institutions. This enables the Anchor team and schools to discuss challenging situations and possibly offer help and advice. When handling personal data of children or adolescents at schools and other educational institutions, regulations concerning information transfer and privacy must also be taken into account. For the school or educational institution, participation in Anchor work is optional. The Anchor team can go on site to handle challenges that emerge at school or invite the adolescent to a meeting. The team can also be involved in the network set up to help the adolescent. In this case, the Anchor team collaborates with the school or educational institution and contributes to the handling of the matter.

The Anchor team’s collaboration with schools and educational institutions can also include holding lessons or participating in school events on site or virtually, if agreed locally or regionally. However, the opportunities offered by technology should also be considered in these cases. For example, events can be organised virtually for several classes or schools simultaneously.

Prevention of cybercrime

Young people and minors are over-represented in police cybercrime statistics in both Finland and other countries. The increase in cross-border cybercrime poses challenges to criminal investigation, the legal system and information security at large. Measured by Internet use, today’s 10–19-year-olds are the most networked generation in history. According to international studies, they have spent more than half their time awake online. The expansion of digitalisation has made cybercrime more attractive and increasingly easy to commit. Today, crime instruments are easily accessible to children and young people, and their use has been made very easy through advanced automation. Children and adolescents who are active online and have advanced IT skills are often poorly aware of the difference between legal and illegal operations and the consequences of crime. This is because the platform where these adolescents operate is a world lacking any systematic control, in contrast to the physical world, as well as any guidance onto the right path.

Much of cybercrime targets private people, but the largest losses are felt by public operators and organisations. The impact of a crime committed by a single adolescent with advanced IT skills can match the impact caused by as many as one hundred organised crime operators. The adolescent’s cycle of crime can move from, for example, minor offences and hacking experiments towards the broad range of financially motivated cybercrime. The move to a path of crime can happen very quickly and take place before the age of criminal responsibility. Various online communities and other social environments often play a key role in criminal development.

The parents’ role in preventing cybercrime is particularly important in early criminal risk behaviour and in putting an end to the cycle of crime of adolescents who have committed their first crime. There may be great differences in the IT skills and competence of the adolescent and their parent, and this may affect the parent’s ability to recognise that the adolescent is being pulled into criminal activity.