Siren sounds over police presence

Greece’s most crime-ridden area, Attica, is experiencing severe police shortages due to red tape and a lack of trained personnel, leaving the force short by some 4,000 officers, according to figures seen by Sunday’s Kathimerini. The Attica Police Department (APD) should be operating with a minimum of 19,716 staff, a government study has decreed, so that the force can meet its policing duties. Instead, there are 16,814 officers currently serving in the area and almost 1,000 more have been assigned to a number of other duties or forces, leaving the APD suffering a staff shortage of around 20 percent. The lack of personnel in Attica is a particularly sensitive issue, as almost 90 percent of the crimes reported each year in Greece take place in and around Athens. Meanwhile, more than a year on from the Olympics, the number of officers on the streets has dropped and figures suggest that criminals have been taking advantage. Since the center of the capital is the most crime-ridden area of the city, police chiefs are attempting to make up for the lack of officers by drafting in personnel from police stations in the suburbs. This, in turn, is leaving the outer areas of Attica very weak in terms of police presence and capabilities, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. The shortage in police numbers is mainly being put down to a slow intake of new recruits and the bureaucratic obstacles of the current system, which means that officers are often called in to perform other duties. Some 1,800 officers, for example, are involved in carrying out tasks such as taking noise recordings at nightclubs and chasing up violations of building regulations. Police chiefs argue that these jobs could be handled by local authority officials.