Police unit sent to historic center

The Greek Police (ELAS) yesterday heralded the creation of a new unit of 300 officers who are to be permanently stationed in the capital’s historic center with the aim of curbing burgeoning crime there. The initiative, launched yesterday, involves 300 officers deployed in a one-kilometer radius around Omonia Square. The officers’ priority is to curb drug dealing and prostitution, which are rife in the area, and to crack down on rings of robbers and muggers that have been targeting stores and pedestrians in the area with increasing frequency over the past few months. The new force, created following a redistribution of personnel by Attica’s police headquarters, is to be exclusively responsible for policing the city’s historic center. «From now on, officers from different departments such as narcotics and immigration will not operate separately in central Athens but according to an overall plan,» one police source told Kathimerini. The new unit will comprise policemen and women from various precincts as well as officers from the force’s rapid-response team (Amesi Drasi) and others from the DIAS motorcycle-riding rapid-reaction unit. Sources at ELAS said the creation of the new police unit was not connected to a report on rising crime in the vicinity of central Athens, compiled by several ministries as well as municipal and prefectural officials and made public last month. In a related development, the Interior and Health ministries have come under fire for failing to establish a network of reception centers for undocumented immigrants in the city center, a scheme heralded last year. Thousands of migrants are currently living in derelict and run-down buildings in the center with hundreds more detained in police detention centers. The burgeoning population of illegal immigrants in the historic center is one of the key gripes of local residents and store owners, who complain that many of the migrants end up turning to crime to eke out a living.