Complaints drop by half

Quality, not quantity, might be the code name for the «Final Report 2000-2001» of the Greek Police’s Internal Affairs Department, which was presented to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday by the department’s head, Vassilis Tsiatouras. The report records a 46-percent drop in the number of complaints leveled against police officers in 2001 compared to 2000, amounting to 394 last year as against 725 the year before. But the drop in the number of complaints, the report stresses, was accompanied by an improved content, which enabled more substantial investigations. Indicatively, in 2000, 51 percent of accusations were passed on to another police service or authority, due to a lack of evidence or lack of proper competence to deal with them. In 2001, 31.2 percent of accusations were passed on. But the number of cases in which formal charges were laid increased. In 2001, there were 94 complaints of violations by police officers in cases concerning immigrants, as against 181 in 2000. There were 60 accusations of disciplinary offenses, as against 141 in 2000. Drug offenses accounted for 38 accusations as against 65 in 2000, and there were 65 complaints, as against 95 in 2000, in cases related to premises (inspections, etc.). Gaming violations numbered 21 in 2001, compared to 45 in 2000, and vice violations came to 16 in 2001 as against 29 in 2000. At the same time, there were 170 complaints about conduct deemed unbefitting a police officer. One of the report’s most important findings was the clear lack of cooperation between the Internal Affairs Department and local police forces, who viewed the body with suspicion. In 2000, only 18 percent of the information which reached the service came from police officers. But the creation of a climate of trust and cooperation with all police forces and the establishment of the directorate as an institution were made priorities for 2001. In order to achieve this aim, a team from the department, with its chief at its head, paid visits to almost all police forces in the country, informing them of its work and emphasizing that it was there to help police officers in their work and not to persecute them. Deliberate intent As a result, 32 percent of the information reaching the Internal Affairs Department in 2001 came from police officers. But they were not always driven by a desire to eradicate corruption; the report mentions three prosecutions against police officers who, with deliberate intent, made false accusations against fellow officers for the purpose of harming them. Another interesting conclusion by the report was that offenses by police officers were opportunistic in nature and not controlled by organized crime. They are usually based on the conviction that the criminal act will not be discovered. In 2000, only one case answered to the description of organized crime.

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