Greece may be one of the safest places to live in Europe, but many of its people still feel vulnerable to crime, fraud

BRUSSELS – «No good news for Greece,» says the latest report by the European Crime and Safety Survey. The survey, which focused on European Union residents’ experience with crime and law enforcement, was conducted by a European consortium that included Gallup, the Max Planck Institute, the United Nations Crime and Justice Research Unit and the European Commission. In measuring how safe EU citizens feel, the study analyzes the relationship between people’s quality of life and the level of neighborhood crime across the EU – but independent of actual police records. The survey was carried out in the EU-15 member states as well as Poland, Hungary and Estonia. Greeks topped the list in the category «fear of crime, but also regarding fear of specific and serious types of crime.» The country remains a fairly safe place to live compared to other countries in Europe but the crime rate in some areas, including theft, mugging and consumer fraud, is high in the ranking. Greeks also have very little faith in their police force and most people are aware that the most serious crime is corruption. So, along with Britain, Estonia and Ireland, Greece tops the list with regard to people’s fear of mugging and bag snatching, even though the incidence of these crimes is among the lowest in Europe. It is also high (sixth out of 18) on the list, which is topped by Britain, in the fear of burglaries. In these categories, violent crimes involving the use of weapons or causing bodily harm are rare. Also encouraging is the relatively low percentage of car and motorcycle thefts in Greece. In this category, Greece is safer than any other nation in Europe. Corruption, fraud But the incidence of crimes of fraud and corruption tell a different story in Greece. According to the survey, Greece is the most corrupt country in Europe – far ahead of the other countries in the number of fraud or corruption-related crimes. Thirteen percent of those polled said they have been victims of corruption in the civil service, compared to the European average of just 2 percent. Not that the private sector is unsullied in this respect: One in four – double the European average – say they have been defrauded in a financial transaction. In this respect, Greece is second only to the Estonians. Policing As for Greeks’ faith in their police force, the image that emerged from the survey was far from encouraging. The Greek Police (ELAS) received one of the lowest scores in Europe with regard to public satisfaction with performance. Nearly half (42 percent) of Greeks said they were afraid to be on the street after dark, and 19 percent consider it extremely likely they will fall victim to a burglary within the year. The survey did not look into the percentage of crimes committed by immigrants, but crimes committed against them. Here, also, Greece is the second-worst country after Belgium, with 15 percent of immigrants saying they had been subjected to racist attacks.