It’s probably fair to say that when anyone mentions the Greek police, the image that most quickly springs to mind is of lines of officers behind Perspex riot shields trying (and failing) to keep order in front of the Parliament building in Syntagma Square, Athens.
The image I have chosen is fairly typical in that respect. And here’s Loucanicos, the riot dog too, giving the massed ranks a piece of his mind. But, we are assured, all that is about to change.
Following a pilot project that ran from April to June this year, a new initiative is now to be rolled out nationally. From the 7th of September, the police announced, there will be a weekly “citizen’s hour” at every police station in Greece! People are encouraged to come in and speak to the senior officer about any kind of criminal activity that is causing them concern. Not only private individuals can come… the invitation extends to societies, groups and associations of all kinds too. So from now on, each Monday evening between 6 and 8 p.m., there should be a listening ear at every police station. The idea, as announced, is for a dialogue covering every aspect of police work in the community to be started and then maintained. It is hoped that this will lead to better informed and more responsive policing, while at the same time greater understanding of the role of the police develops in society, and confidence in the police service grows.
Naturally, welfare groups are seeing this as an opportunity to air concerns about criminal cases of neglect, abuse and poisonings in their local communities, and to urge officers to act. It has to be said that complaints concerning the abuse of animals have not, to date, always been given high priority by the Greek police.
So, will it turn out to be window dressing or something real? Time will tell.