NEWS

High-profile figures to get fewer guards

The new presidential decree to be examined by the Council of State frees 800 police officers from guarding sensitive targets and high-ranking individuals, though a large number of officers will still be available to perform security duties for politicians, judges and businessmen. Positions for the security of high-profile figures have always been regarded as privileged and there are doubts as to whether the new decree will bring substantial changes. Police administrators have often reserved such posts for their supporters. The actual number of security personnel is considered to be much greater, since officers are often seconded from other police services. The prime minister’s security escort currently numbers 150 officers but is in fact much larger, as other officers (such as riot police) are not included. Nevertheless, setting the terms and conditions for the number of police officers performing guard duty of possible targets is a step in the right direction. Until now it has been the police themselves who decide whether the appointment of security personnel is necessary and they often use the process as a public relations and political opportunity. At present, there are 61 security officers to protect the opposition party chief on a 24-hour basis, but, according to the new decree, the number will be reduced to 50. For the security of ministers eight officers will be appointed. However four officers, rather than the present number of two or three, will be deployed as security personnel for deputy ministers. The decree also makes provisions for one officer per member of Parliament in Attica and per Euro MP, and two officers for deputies of other prefectures (i.e. one in Athens and one in their electoral district). Today many deputies, in particular in Attica, have two to eight security staff. Overall, 370 officers are employed for the security of deputies. When the decree becomes law, executives of the governing party will have 15 officers for their personal security and executives of the main opposition party 10 officers. The number is currently as high as 130 officers. The number of officers on security duty for court operations is presently 220, whereas the new bill provides for a much smaller number (four for the prosecutor of the High Court of Appeal, the presidents of the Council of State and Audit Council, two officers for each of the heads of other courts). The number of officers to protect businessmen, journalists and other key figures is also to be revised from the present 300.