NEWS

Police to pound streets in crime-fighting bid

A week after it was revealed that crime in Athens had shot up by over a fifth since the city hosted the Olympics, top police officers met with Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis and, according to sources, agreed to step up police patrols. Police statistics showed that robberies, thefts and break-ins in July increased by more than 20 percent compared to statistics for the same month in 2004. Police sources said that a lack of visible policing was mainly to blame because it was allowing petty crime to thrive. However, authorities now seem to have agreed to tackle the problem by putting more officers on foot patrols. Voulgarakis asked the police to identify which areas need more intensive policing and to boost patrolman presence there. He also asked for spot checks to be conducted to ensure officers were actually on the streets when they were meant to be. The plan is expected to come into effect next month, when the force will be operating at full capacity. Annual leave was suspended for the Olympics last summer, so it is estimated that only some 30 percent of officers have been on duty at any given time since June this year while the rest went on vacation.