Greece police boost patrols to protect vulnerable during crisis

Greece police boost patrols to protect vulnerable during crisis

Greek police boost patrols
Giorgos, a 77-year-old pensioner from Athens, sits outside a branch of the National Bank of Greece as he waits along with dozens of other pensioners, hoping to get their pensions in Athens, Greece June 29, 2015. Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 

Neighbourhood police patrols have been boosted across Greece, and a special hotline set up, amid fears that vulnerable people may be at risk of being exploited by criminals and conmen during the country’s current period of economic uncertainty. The helpline was designed to prevent people from feeling “alone and helpless”, police said.

The country is set to vote this weekend in a referendum on whether or not to accept a Greek bailout in exchange for more austerity, which could see it leaving the euro.

The Greek government confirmed today that it will miss tonight’s midnight deadline to pay €1.6bn to the IMF, although there are emerging hopes that the country and its creditors will still reach some sort of deal to extend the country’s bailout, with reports that the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras might be preparing to travel to Brussels tonight, according to the Guardian.

In Greece, banks will remain shut this week, with Greeks only able to withdraw a maximum of €60 each day from cash points. There have also been reports of food hoarding and petrol stations running out of fuel.

People reach out reach out for a bag of

Amidst this climate of uncertainty, the Greek police yesterday announced that 36 neighborhoods across Greece would see an increased police presence, as a direct result of the economic crisis and a fear that criminals might take advantage of more vulnerable members of society.

Police would not be drawn on the type of crime they anticipate, but Greek media said the announcement was intended to “boost citizens’ sense of security and protection from opportunists and organized rackets trying to exploit their worries and anxiety”.

There have been queues of anxious pensioners at cash machines in recent days and it was announced today that 1,000 bank branches will reopen from tomorrow until the end of the week to cater for pensioners who do not use cash cards for automated teller machines, according to Reuters Pensioners will each be able to withdraw up to €120 this week.

Greek police released a statement saying: “In order to transmit a sense of security and protection in front of this kind of economic crisis, the ministry of citizen protection has decided to extend police patrols in 36 new neighborhoods around Greece.”

The police presence will be extended to eight neighbourhoods in Athens, four in Thessalonika, and 24 other neighbourhoods around the country.

The statement continues: “Moreover the ministry has decided to establish a new phone line for citizens to communicate with the police, this line is 11188, in order not to feel alone and helpless.”

The police spokesperson told Newsweek: “The police announced this to confront any problem that may arise. We are now waiting for the economic situation to find a resolution and we are here for the citizens.”

The police statement also makes clear that the police will give “particular sensitivity and care to vulnerable social groups, with priority to the care and services for people with disabilities and the elderly”.