Police absence fuels public fear

The VPRC survey that was commissioned by Kathimerini, and which is published in this newspaper today, leaves no doubt about people’s feelings as regards the insufficient level of police protection. Seven out of 10 say they are afraid to be out at night, while one in three people even feel insecure in broad daylight. An equal number complain that police patrols in their neighborhoods are rare or non-existent. And this situation prevails throughout the Attica region. Fear is spreading. More than one in two people stress that they do not trust the police force. To be sure, statistics confirm that Greece’s crime rates remain lower than in other countries. Official reports show that in the first eight months of 2005 the number of break-ins rose by a mere 2.2 percent compared to the same period in 2004. However, on August 10 the police announced that robberies, thefts and burglaries had shot up by 20 percent, attributing the rise to the dearth of police patrols. About a month earlier, prompted by the fatal road pileup in the Alamana region, Kathimerini noted the dwindling presence of traffic police officers along the country’s highways. There is hardly need for more proof to justify the public sense of insecurity. The Ministry for Public Order cannot afford to pretend that no major problem exists. Public dissatisfaction and police acknowledgements of deficiency allow no room for relaxation. The minister and the responsible government officials must finally take steps to protect the citizens.

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