NEWS

Plans unveiled for police force overhaul

Faced with a resurgence in urban guerrilla activity, the government Wednesday unveiled plans to overhaul the Greek Police (ELAS) in a bid to improve patrols and cut spending.

During an Athens press briefing, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said the aim of the authorities is to reduce the force’s response time by up to 25 percent and to bring Greek officials’ performance ratings up to the same level as the European Union average.

The bill, which was tabled in Parliament Wednesday, foresees the scrapping of about 6,700 permanent posts, which are currently vacant, as well as the merging of ELAS’s surplus administrative departments. The move is expected to cut their number almost in half, from 120 to 68. With the exception of the Attica and Thessaloniki prefectures, the remaining 52 police directorates will be substituted by the 12 regional directorates.

According to the blueprint, ELAS will be split into three autonomous bureaus that will be responsible for order, security and immigration-related issues. The Order Branch will include the departments of the general police, traffic police and the newly established citizen service and municipal police. The Security Branch, dubbed by Dendias as “the Greek FBI,” will absorb the anti-terrorism squad, the cyber-crimes department and the police’s crime intelligence unit. Finally, the Aliens Branch will bring together border police and illegal immigration prevention units.

The New Democracy minister said that the revamp will not affect the budget, adding that the government hopes to attract funds from the subsidies program of the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA).

During the press briefing, Dendias confirmed an earlier report in Kathimerini that ELAS is working with US and British intelligence services in order to track down and arrest November 17 member and fugitive Christodoulos Xeros. Xeros, who was serving six life sentences in the maximum-security Korydallos Prison in Athens for killing American and British operatives, disappeared earlier this month after failing to check in with local authorities during an approved holiday furlough.

After recent developments, Dendias said “requests for police protection are coming in waves.”

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