PM puts police on guard

Aware that a disproving public now knows that some 6,000 Greek police officers are spending their time guarding celebrities while statistics show crime is on the rise, the prime minister yesterday ordered the creation of a committee regulating how VIPs are assigned police minders. Costas Karamanlis met with his public order minister, Giorgos Voulgarakis, to fine-tune details on legislation, but focused on the issue of police protection for politicians, businessmen and journalists after a report about it appeared in Sunday’s Kathimerini. Sources suggest Karamanlis is unhappy police authorities have made no progress on this issue, despite assurances they would bring the minder system under control after Kathimerini published a confidential Greek police report last year listing the public figures who had police minders. A special police division was formed last November to look into the allocation of resources but it has yet to become operational and only acquired an office eight months after it was set up. In an effort to bypass this delay, Karamanlis and Voulgarakis agreed yesterday to form a committee made up of top-level officials from the Public Order Ministry and high-ranking police officers. Their task will be to compose specific criteria indicating which people will be assigned personal police guards, so public money won’t go to waste. The committee will also do a case-by-case review of those people who currently have minders, to deem if protection is necessary. It is thought very few of the 6,000 officers currently working as minders will keep these assignments after the assessment. Karamanlis wants the panel to be formed as soon as possible and its work completed within the next few months.