NEWS

Policemen taken off VIP duty

Some 300 policemen who had until recently been assigned to act as bodyguards for politicians, celebrities and VIPs have returned to normal duties, high-ranking police sources told Kathimerini yesterday. The policemen have been transferred back to their regular posts after the recent recommendations of a committee which suggested that some 500 police officers should be taken off the special duty of guarding the rich and famous. The committee began its work last September and delivered its report in March to the heads of the Greek Police (ELAS) and the Public Order Ministry. During its investigation, which was prompted by complaints that public resources were being wasted on guarding high-profile personalities, the panel found that 2,842 officers, 171 police cars and 113 motorcycles were being used to protect VIPs, apart from the president, prime minister and ministers. Of the 2,842 police officers, some 200 were assigned to protect publishers, journalists and businessmen. However, police sources told Kathimerini that reducing or taking away police protection from some people has proved difficult. Some VIPs have been extremely reluctant to give up their police bodyguards and are resisting efforts to this end. The police had also suggested that all MPs could be restricted to one police guard but this idea met with the disapproval of a number of deputies and has been scrapped, sources said. However, the president, prime minister and public order minister have attempted to set an example by returning between eight and 10 police guards each.