Po­lice fail to halt in­ner-city crime

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

An in­crease in polic­ing in the city’s his­toric cen­ter has had lit­tle im­pact on re­duc­ing the rate of crime, with mem­bers of lo­cal rack­ets sim­ply mov­ing a few blocks away dur­ing the day and then re­turn­ing to their pitch at night, res­i­dents lob­by­ing for more se­cu­rity in the area have told Kathimerini.

Last month, Cit­i­zens’ Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Chris­tos Papout­sis her­alded a po­lice crack­down in the crime-rid­den his­toric cen­ter. Since then, the pres­ence of po­lice in the area – both on foot and ve­hi­cle pa­trols – has al­most dou­bled. On some days, 600 of­fi­cers pa­trol the his­toric cen­ter alone, ac­cord­ing to po­lice sources.

But the mea­sures ap­pear to have fallen short of ex­pec­ta­tions, shift­ing the prob­lem tem­po­rar­ily else­where rather than tack­ling it ef­fec­tively.

One lo­cal res­i­dent told Kathimerini that the So­mali and Nige­rian drug deal­ers that have been op­er­at­ing around Omo­nia Square for the past few months of­ten move a few blocks away to Panepis­timiou Street dur­ing the day to avoid the in­creased po­lice pres­ence be­fore re­turn­ing to their usual turf at night.

Mean­while the il­licit trade of drugs at Vathi Square ap­pears to have shifted to the equally run­down area around Laris­sis rail­way sta­tion. Petty crime fo­cused in and around Koumoundourou Square – a hang­out for dozens of des­ti­tute im­mi­grants and drug ad­dicts tak­ing their fix – is edg­ing to­ward the neigh­bor­hood of Pe­tralona, some lo­cals say.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, hun­dreds of im­mi­grants be­lieved to be mem­bers of crime rings are op­er­at­ing in the cen­ter and hun­dreds more peo­ple with drug ad­dic­tion prob­lems are be­lieved to be fall­ing vic­tim to rack­ets and re­sort­ing to petty crime to get their next fix. A po­lice source told Kathimerini that the dif­fer­ent groups could not be dealt with in the same way. “For some of these groups, like the drug ad­dicts, the po­lice can­not do any­thing,” the source said.

Dim­itris Niko­lakopou­los, the co­or­di­na­tor of a cit­i­zens’ group lob­by­ing for im­prove­ments in the his­toric cen­ter, claimed that po­lice had not made good on a pledge to pro­vide 24-hour polic­ing in the area. “At night the im­ages of shame and hor­ror re­turn to the streets,” he said, re­fer­ring to clashes be­tween hun­dreds of mi­grants of dif­fer­ent eth­nic ori­gin ar­gu­ing about the con­trol of the drug trade in dif­fer­ent quar­ters and pros­ti­tu­tion.

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