Steps to making Athens safer

Over the next few months, the Public Order Ministry is to implement a series of new measures to further reduce petty crime and improve security in people’s daily lives. At a meeting at police headquarters of police chiefs from around the country recently, Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis set out the new measures which he said should be implemented immediately. Priorities include a crackdown on drug dealers, more foot patrols and expansion of the new neighborhood police, measures to restrict bank robberies, and improved traffic conditions in Attica. Floridis said a main goal was to get rid of petty drug dealers from the center of the city, where people going about their daily business were often witness to drug deals and occasionally drug use. «Security officials have had great successes in seizing major quantities of drugs, but the rest get through to users via the small dealers. It is they whom we will be after and we will pursue them every time they change their beat,» he said. As for bank robberies, the ministry is in the final stages of a dialogue with the Union of Greek Banks and the Federation of Bank Employees’ Unions (OTOE) regarding more deterrents to potential bank robbers. The Public Order Ministry regards two points as non-negotiable: more security doors and high-definition cameras. The closed-circuit surveillance cameras currently in use produce poor-quality images and films of robberies often do not give a clear picture of robbers’ features. The introduction of foot patrols and neighborhood police officers has been a great success and is to be expanded; officers are also to be provided with scooters. Another 200 officers will be added to the neighborhood police force in other areas of Attica next month. Traffic conditions are to be improved by reducing the number of permits issued for access to the inner city zone to a maximum of 15,000. The official figure for recent years was 45,000, though the actual amount is believed to be over 100,000. Tighter controls will be imposed on vehicles circulating within the inner city zone, and on bus lanes. Fewer personal guards A review is being made of all assignments of police officers for personal protection. By the end of November, Floridis believes that a considerable number of officers will have been removed from these posts. Meanwhile, with regard to the policing of soccer games, the minister is to ask the Sports Ministry that when teams are sanctioned by having to play away from home, the game should be closed to the public. When a team plays from home but is accompanied by its own supporters, violent incidents and damage to property often occur. Floridis seems determined not to provide policing for games that are played away as a punishment.