The European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) was established in 1981 through an Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Finland. HEUNI is based in Helsinki. The objective of HEUNI is to promote the international exchange of information on crime prevention and control among European countries.
As the European regional institute in the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, HEUNI serves a region with an exceptionally active criminological community, with a number of different legal systems, and with governments that are relatively receptive to research and innovation in criminal justice. HEUNI also co-operates closely with the two major intergovernmental organizations in the region that have fostered international cooperation also in criminal justice: the Council of Europe and the European Union.
Europe thus forms a hothouse for innovation in national and international criminal justice, and for innovation in research. The lessons learned in Europe, and the good practice developed in Europe, may have wider application. HEUNI has sought to identify these and, through the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, bring them to the attention of the world community.
HEUNI's primary form of activity is the conducting of research projects, either independently or in cooperation with other institutions and individual researchers. HEUNI also at times organises international seminars as well as smaller expert meetings on specific themes. Furthermore, HEUNI participates in technical assistance projects involving, for example, the provision of expertise or the organisation of training.
The topics covered by the institute currently include organized crime, corruption, gender-based violence and trafficking in human beings. An on-going activity of HEUNI is an analysis of the European and North American replies to the United Nations surveys on crime trends and operations of criminal justice systems
Since 2010 HEUNI has been in charge of the practical coordination of the eighteen entities comprising the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network.