British bobbies to lead policing of UK tourists in Rhodes

LONDON (AP) – English-speaking police will lead a crackdown on drunken and unruly British tourists on the Greek island town of Faliraki next summer, officials said yesterday. John Iatrides, mayor of the Kallithea region on the island of Rhodes, said 20 police officers have been posted to a new police station in Faliraki to oversee strict new rules for both partygoers and nightclubs. Images of young Britons consuming vast quantities of alcohol, engaging in public sex acts and violent activity in Faliraki dominated newspaper headlines last summer. Greek authorities responded by banning pub crawls and arresting scores of teenagers for being drunk and disorderly – one was jailed for baring her breasts. Amid cries in Britain of harsh treatment, British and Greek officials began working together to tackle the problem. A three-member British police team with experience of taming the nightlife in the northern English seaside town of Blackpool were sent to Faliraki, which draws up to 500,000 people a year, or nearly 4 percent of Greece’s 14 million tourists, to provide tips about dealing with late-night revelers. «We have an obligation to ensure a safe and happy holiday for all of our visitors to Rhodes,» Iatrides said as he announced the changes in London. «These are not draconian measures. There’s no question of there being a police crackdown. It’s very much a softly, softly approach. We want young visitors to keep coming to Rhodes. We want them to have a great time.» The police station, Faliraki’s first, will open on May 1. The majority of its 20 officers will be English-speaking and a number have visited Blackpool. A further 10 municipal police officers, with no power of arrest, will patrol the town, taking a «friendly, advisory» approach with tourists. Iatrides said that regulations on nightclubs and package tourism operators would be strictly enforced. They include limiting organized bar crawls to no more than 50 people and four establishments in one night; restricting bar owners to providing only one free drink to visiting groups; and a midnight curfew on music in bars. Organizers of bar crawls will also be required to provide a list of names and ages of all participants, provide a set time for their coach to leave Faliraki and provide police with the names of anyone missing on it.