Pledge to address grave police shortages

The government pledged yesterday that it would boost police ranks, as Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis continued visiting Athens police stations, many of which are seriously understaffed. Markoyiannakis made the promise while visiting the Aghios Panteleimonas station, near central Athens, which has some 100 officers rather than the 165 that should be serving there. «The station will be strengthened,» said Markoyiannakis. «For there to be more intensive policing, we have to have more policemen.» Matters have been made worse in recent weeks as, following the riots in December, many officers have been assigned to protect public buildings. The least well-staffed police station is in Exarchia, where only 176 rather than 345 officers are serving. «For every new cadet that joins the force, two officers retire,» a high-ranking officer told Kathimerini, adding that there are a total of 46,000 policemen and women in the force as opposed to the 52,000 that should be serving. However, officers also pointed to strict laws that prevent policemen from being transferred from where their family is based, which means that some areas of Greece have more personnel than they need while others are short of staff.