Greek police made 600 arrests in central Athens last week, amid escalating concerns over rising crime and illegal immigrants. Politicians are trying to outscore each other on the issue of policing crime in the run up to Sunday's elections.
Ekathimerini reported police in central Athens made 600 arrests last week, primarily for "robberies, drugs offenses and failure to produce valid residence permits." More than 6,000 people were detained by police, of which 5,500 were foreign nationals.
With crime increasingly in the forefront of peoples concerns, politicians have brought policing onto the agenda. Following a visit by New Democracy's Anthonis Samaras to the Aghios Panteleimonas district in Athens, SYRIZA's Alexis Tsirpras accused him of staging a public relations stunt. The district has been at the center of activity by Golden Dawn in their campaign against immigration and has seen a rise in vigilantism. Golden Dawn has garnered support from voters trapped in areas which are becoming increasingly ghettoised and overtaken by illegal immigrants.
Last week Digital Journal reported on a shocking attack that occurred in broad daylight when an Israeli journalist was beaten by masked men after attempting to photograph a mob vigilante scenes. It remains unknown if the perpetrators were from the far-left or the far-right.
Tsipras has said the focus needs to shift and police should be put back into policing neighbourhoods rather than suppressing street protests. Ekathimerini reports he pledged to disarm police patrolling protests and disband riot squads, but continue to allow police fighting crime to carry weapons.
In July 2011 it was reported Greek police in the bankrupt nation spent nearly one million euros on chemical grenades and tear gas, to replenish stocks used during demonstrations in Athens. However, outside the capital police resources are stretched to the limit and Digital Journal reported demand for guns is up as citizens become more concerned for their personal safety.