NEWS

Athens crime rate shoots up

Crime rates in central Athens were higher in 2007 than the previous year, with law enforcers blaming the increase on a large number of police being pulled off the streets to perform guard duties. According to police data, there was a 15 percent increase in household break-ins while car theft figures also rose sharply in comparison with 2006. The largest increases were in areas such as Kallithea, Neos Cosmos, Patissia, Zografou and Kypseli. Data showed that 545 homes were broken into in the eastern Athens district of Zografou in 2007, versus 228 in the previous year. The area of Kypseli was hard hit too, with 1,470 homes broken into, up from 893 in the previous year. Police said street patrols and general supervision could improve if there was a reduction in staff appointed to watch over sports events, embassies and street demonstrations. «Greece may have the largest police force on a per capita level in the whole of Europe but the number of law enforcers involved in policing is smaller,» a senior police source told Kathimerini. There have been calls for extra policing measures to be implemented across the country, particularly after recent reports that young teenagers have easy access to hard drugs on city streets. The head of the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals (KETHEA), Haralambos Poulopoulos, said that one-third of people that enroll in a drug rehabilitation program had started their habit before the age of 15. Despite the fact that there are a number of well-run programs in Greece, they are restricted to the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki, added Poulopoulos.