Are Cyprus po­lice over­worked and un­der­rated?

Just Words...

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - CYPRUS - By Char­lie Char­alam­bous

It may have come as some sur­prise to many Cypri­ots to hear that Cyprus has the most cops per capita than any­where else in Eu­rope.

Cyprus has the high­est num­ber of po­lice of­fi­cers in the EU with 573 per 100,000 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to Euro­stat.

On aver­age, there were 318 po­lice of­fi­cers per 100,000 peo­ple in the EU in 2016, or one po­lice of­fi­cer for 314 peo­ple – Cyprus, Malta, Greece and Croa­tia bucked this trend.

Many of you are most prob­a­bly won­der­ing where all these bob­bies on the beat are hid­ing, in­stead of keep­ing us safe and pro­tect­ing us from the crim­i­nals.

Anec­do­tal ev­i­dence sug­gests that there is never a po­lice of­fi­cer around to ask for di­rec­tions or in­quire what time of day it is be­cause they scarcely pa­trol the streets on foot or en­gage with the pub­lic.

Much of po­lice work seems to be re­ac­tive rather than pro-ac­tive – they only usu­ally ar­rive once some­thing bad has hap­pened.

Too many of­fi­cers seem to be de­ployed in be­ing the per­sonal body­guards of politi­cians who don’t ac­tu­ally need them, while reams of pa­per­work are get­ting in the way of ac­tive po­lice work.

Cyprus po­lice are a long way from us­ing smart tech­nol­ogy to make their jobs eas­ier with more tools to pre­vent crime.

It’s not just vi­o­lent crime we need to worry about, but new tech­nolo­gies also en­able crim­i­nals to stay ahead of the game and in­vade our lives through cy­ber­crime, iden­tity theft and bul­ly­ing on so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

There is also the petty crime and loutish be­hav­iour that de­stroys neigh­bour­hoods and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, less tol­er­ance of van­dal­ism would stop the pro­gres­sion into more se­ri­ous forms of il­le­gal­ity.

Where the po­lice and the com­mu­nity are fully en­gaged, like neigh­bour­hood watch schemes, they do work but how many of us feel that the po­lice are truly com­mit­ted to pre­vent­ing the spread of low-level crime and delin­quency.

Peo­ple speed like crazy, run red lights, park on pave­ments, in­vade dis­abled park­ing spots, drink and drive be­cause they feel the chances of them get­ting caught, or stopped, are min­i­mal.

Po­lice do a good job of pre­tend­ing to be traf­fic cam­eras, but they are no sub­sti­tute for the real thing, they are also re­luc­tant to en­force lane dis­ci­pline and er­ratic driv­ing be­hav­iour on the high­ways.

When traf­fic cam­eras are fi­nally in­tro­duced, a ma­jor­ity of driv­ers will surely be on the verge of los­ing their li­cence in the first few weeks of their op­er­a­tion as they have been used to get­ting away with it for so long.

What the po­lice or speed cam­eras can’t do is put your seat­belt on, it should be a force of habit by now, but here again, driv­ers pre­fer to dice with death as two out of three peo­ple who died in road ac­ci­dents last year were not wear­ing one.

This sad state of af­fairs has led po­lice to ad­vo­cate a rad­i­cal shake-up of fines and penal­ties for er­rant mo­torists.

In fu­ture, the fine for not wear­ing a seat­belt could be in ex­cess of 300 eu­ros – a price worth pay­ing if it saves lives.

Even if the po­lice were out there night and day catch­ing the bad guys our steam-en­gine jus­tice sys­tem would be un­able to cope.

Cyprus’ jus­tice sys­tem is slow, an­ti­quated and lack­ing in real pur­pose to stream­line pro­ce­dures that give peo­ple swift re­sults – this shouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean stick­ing debtors in an over­crowded prison.

To be hon­est, the jus­tice sys­tem seems to be a re­flec­tion of a po­lice force which lacks the vigour of a mod­ern or­gan­i­sa­tion, light on its feet, ready to re­spond to the dif­fer­ent threats we are faced with.

Is the force also do­ing its ut­most to re­cruit the best avail­able minds while en­sur­ing women and peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds are en­cour­aged to join?

More­over, is the govern­ment do­ing its bit to equip the po­lice with the lat­est gad­gets and nec­es­sary weapons to make a cred­i­ble de­ter­rent in fight­ing or­gan­ised crime and polic­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties?

Cyprus may ar­guably have more than its fair share of po­lice of­fi­cers, but are they be­ing used pro­duc­tively with op­ti­mum re­sults or is it just an­other ser­vice be­ing patched up on the go with no long-term strat­egy.

What the data can’t tell us is whether Cyprus po­lice is an over­stretched thin blue line or one that has got fat­ter from sit­ting be­hind a desk.

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