With the Greek capital expecting a large number of tourists this summer, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis has publicly called for a meeting with Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos, pointing out that the city is facing a major security problem.
Speaking on Skai Radio, he said that he was forced to publicly address Theodorikakos as he has been asking for a meeting for a month, to no avail.
“Let’s not mince words. Athens has a very big problem at the moment. Just take a walk in the neighborhoods to be convinced,” Bakoyannis said, noting that statistics are not necessary to realize there is a problem.
“I walk every day and listen to the people,” he said, noting the situation has deteriorated in recent months.
“The truth is that a lot of progress has been made. It did not start in the last two years, but unfortunately in recent months we have seen a retreat of the police,” he stressed, while clarifying that he has no problem with Theodorikakos.
But, he emphasized, he became desperate as he has received no response from the minister for a meeting.
“I understand that obviously the minister has other issues, but I imagine that Athens is among the top 10. Let me tell you anyway, Taki, we have a problem and we have to do something immediately,” he said, addressing the minister.
He added that he has mapped the crime and delinquency in the city and has drafted a “black map” with points where the problem is acute and that the data can be handed over to Theodorikakos.
“Athens needs precautionary, active and continuous policing in its neighborhoods and in the center. That is why we are talking about a new model of community policing – with the policeman in the neighborhood, not just outside the police station,” he said.
Sources from the Municipality of Athens told Kathimerini on Tuesday that there are parts of the center which are guarded by police forces “as if it were the White House,” while to most citizens, the police are invisible.
Complaints have also been expressed by businessmen who have invested in the city center.
Furthermore, Bakoyannis asked for an increase in the number of staff the municipal police employs – 400-450 today compared to 1,150 in 2014 – and that they be given more responsibilities to support the police.