Cameras to be switched on

The decision yesterday by the Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) to approve the use of surveillance cameras to crack down on rising crime in the capital was undermined by the police’s inability to prevent the escape of two handcuffed detainees and a bank robber. The controversial decision to include the use of cameras in efforts to curb a rising crime wave was backed by most ministers attending the KYSEA session that lasted for nearly four hours. It was reportedly decided that the first cameras to be activated would be those used during the Athens 2004 Olympics. According to sources, the Interior Ministry is planning to hire a further 3,000 officers and acquire hundreds of new patrol cars and motorcycles to boost policing. Footage recorded on the cameras will be kept on file, sources said. A proposal by British counterterrorism officers regarding the creation of a DNA bank to store the genetic details of all police suspects was not discussed. Civil rights concerns aside, opposition PASOK spokesman Giorgos Papaconstantinou questioned the effectiveness of using cameras. «Would the two fugitives have been caught today if the cameras had been on,» he remarked. He was referring to two handcuffed detainees who escaped from police officers at the capital’s main court complex. The fugitives, a Georgian and a Kazakh being held for a supermarket raid that netted them 165 euros, were still on the run last night. Also at large late yesterday was a robber who netted 150,000 euros in a bank raid at Pallini, east of Athens. The robber briefly took hostage a female employee who escaped unharmed. Officers found the bag with the cash later, as well as a gun and the robber’s clothes, at a house in Pallini.

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