Logo of the Hellenic Police
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Legal jurisdiction||As per operations jurisdiction.|
|Governing body||Ministry of Citizen Protection|
|Constituting instrument||Law 1481/1-10-1984|
|Minister responsible||Giannis Panousis, Minister for Citizen Protection|
The Hellenic Police (Greek: Ελληνική Αστυνομία, Elliniki Astynomia, abbreviated ΕΛ.ΑΣ.) is the national police service of Greece. It is a very large agency with its responsibilities ranging from road traffic control to counter-terrorism. Its current chief is Police Lieutenant General Nikos Papagiannopoulos.
The Hellenic Police force was established in 1984 under Law 1481/1-10-1984 (Government Gazette 152 A) as the result of the fusion of the Gendarmerie (Χωροφυλακή, Chorofylaki) and the Cities Police (Αστυνομία Πόλεων, Astynomia Poleon) forces.
According to Law 2800/2000, the Hellenic Police is a security organ whose primary aims are:
- Ensuring peace and order as well as citizens' unhindered social development, a mission that includes general policing duties and traffic safety.
- Prevention and suppression of crime as well as protecting the state and its democratic form of government within the framework of the constitutional order, a mission which includes the implementation of public and state security policy.
The Hellenic Police is constituted along central and regional lines. The force takes direction from the Minister for Citizen Protection.
- 1 Structure
- 2 Personnel
- 3 History
- 4 Social service
- 5 Current issues
- 6 Effectiveness
- 7 Controversies
- 8 Transportation
- 9 Equipment
- 10 Police Academy
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 External links
The Hellenic Police force is headed in a de jure sense by the Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, however, although he sets the general policy direction of Greece's stance towards law and order as a whole, the Chief of Police is the day-to-day head of the force. Underneath the Chief of Police is the Deputy Chief of Police whose role is largely advisory, though in the event of the Chief of Police being unable to assume his duties the Deputy Chief will take over as the interim head. Regular meetings are also held with the Council of Planning and Crisis Management who are drawn from the heads of the main divisions of the police force and raise relevant issues with the Chief of Police him/herself. Underneath the Deputy Chief of Police is the Head of Staff, who, in addition to acting as 'Principal' of the Police Academy, heads the Security and Order Branch, Administrative Support Branch and Economical-Technical and Information Support Branch. Equal in rank to the Head of Staff are the General Inspectors of Southern and Northern Greece, who have under their jurisdiction the regional services of both these divisions. The Security and Order Branch is by far the most important, and includes the General Police Division, the Public Security Division and the State Security Division, among others.
Greece is divided into two sectors for policing, both headed by an Inspector General. These sectors both contain several regions, headed by an Inspector General.
- East Macedonia and Thrace region
- Central Macedonia region
- West Macedonia region
- Thessaly region
- Epirus region
- North Aegean region
- Central Greece region
- Peloponnese region
- West Greece region
- Ionian Islands region
- South Aegean region
- Crete region
The Greek Police force has several special services divisions under the authority of the Chief of Police and working in conjunction with regional and other police sectors where necessary, these are as follows:
- Cyber Crime Center (Greek: Δίωξη Ηλεκτρονικού Εγκλήματος)
- Special Violent Crime Squad (Greek: Δ.Α.Ε.Ε.Β. - Διεύθυνση Αντιμετώπισης Ειδικών Εγκλημάτων Βίας - Dieuthynse Antimetopises Eidikon Egklematon Vias)
- Forensic Division (Greek: Δ.Ε.Ε. - Διεύθυνση Εγκληματολογικών Ερευνών - Dieuthynse Egklematologikon Ereunon)
- Division of Internal Affairs (Greek: Δ.Ε.Υ. - Διεύθυνση Εσωτερικών Υποθέσεων - Dieuthynse Esoterikon Hypotheseon)
- International Police Cooperation Division (Greek: Δ.Δ.Α.Σ. - Διεύθυνση Διεθνούς Αστυνομικής Συνεργασίας - Dieuthynse Diethnous Astynomikes Synergasias)
- Informatics Division (Greek: Διεύθυνση Πληροφορικής - Dieuthynse Plerophorikes)
- Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (Greek: E.K.A.M. - Ειδική Κατασταλτική Αντιτρομοκρατική Μονάδα - Eidiki Katastaltike Antitromokratike Monada)
- Department of Explosive Devices Disposal (Greek: Τ.Ε.Ε.Μ. - Τμήμα Εξουδετέρωσης Εκρηκτικών Μηχανισμών - Tmema Exoudeterosis Ekrektikon Mechanismon)
- Hellenic Police Air Force Service (Greek: Υ.Ε.Μ.Ε.Α. - Υπηρεσία Εναερίων Μέσων Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας - Hyperesia Enaerion Meson Hellenikes Astynomias)
- Teams of Motorcycling Policement (Greek: ΖΗΤΑ - Ομάδα Ζήτα - Omada Zeta)
- Teams of Motorcycling Policement (Greek: ΔΙ.ΑΣ. - Ομάδες Δίκυκλης Αστυνόμευσης - Omades Dicykles Astynomeuses)
- Force of Control Fast Confrontation (Greek: Δ.ΕΛ.Τ.Α. - Δύναμη Ελέγχου Ταχείας Αντιμετώπισης - Dyname Elegchou Tachias Antimetopises)
- Special Guards (Greek: Ειδικοί Φρουροί - Eidikoi Frouroi)
- Border Guards (Greek: Συνοριοφύλακες - Synoriophylakes)
- Units for the Reinstatement of (Public) Order (Riot Police) (Greek: M.A.T. - Μονάδες Αποκατάστασης Τάξης - Monades Apokatastases Taxes)
- Unit of Police Dogs (Greek: Ομάδα Αστυνομικών Σκύλων - Omada Astynomikon Skylon)
Ranks of the Hellenic Police Force
|Title||Police Lieutenant General||Police Major General||Police Brigadier General||Police Colonel||Police Lieutenant Colonel||Police Major||Police Captain||Police Lieutenant||Police Second Lieutenant||Police Warrant Officer||Police Sergeant||Police Officer|
|Greek title||Αντιστράτηγος||Υποστράτηγος||Ταξίαρχος||Αστυνομικός Διευθυντής||Αστυνομικός Υποδιευθυντής||Αστυνόμος Α'||Αστυνόμος Β'||Υπαστυνόμος Α'||Υπαστυνόμος B'||Ανθυπαστυνόμος||Αρχιφύλακας Ανακριτικός Υπάλληλος (Με 15 έτη υπηρεσίας)||Αστυφύλακας|
Though there was what constituted a police force under the provisional Government of Greece during the Greek War of Independence, the first organized police force in Greece was the Greek Gendarmerie which was established in 1833 after the enthronement of King Otho. It was at that time formally part of the army and under the authority of the Defence Ministry (later the entirety of the organization including the Police Academy was brought under its authority). A city police force was also established but its role remained a secondary one in comparison to the Army's role (mainly dealing with illegal gambling, a severe problem at the time), several foreign advisers (particularly from Bavaria, which emphasized elements of centralization and authoritarianism), were also brought in to provide training and tactical advice to the newly formed Police force. The main task of the police force under the army as a whole during this period was firstly to combat theft but also to contribute to the establishment of a strong executive government.
The army's links to the police and the nature of the structure of the police force and its hierarchy (that of being similar to the army) was maintained throughout the 19th century for a number of reasons. Largely the socio-political unrest that characterized the period including disproportionate poverty, governmental oppression, sporadic rebellions and political instability. As a result of this, as well as the input of the armed forces, the police force remained a largely conservative body throughout the period, there was also a certain amount of politicization during training as the police force were trained in military camps.
In 1906 the Greek police force underwent its first major restructuring at an administrative level. It acquired its own educational and training facilities independent of those of the army (though still remaining titularly part of the armed forces). Despite this the Gendarmarie still maintained a largely military based structured based on its involvement in the Macedonian Struggle, and the Balkan and First World Wars, as a result it tended to neglect civilian matters and was partially unresponsive to the needs of Greek society at the time. However, together with the establishment of a civilian city police force for Athens in 1920 (which would eventually be expanded to the entire country), it set a precedent for further change that came in 1935 because of rapid technological, demographic and economic changes which helped it to become more responsive to civilian policing needs of the time.
However, modernization of the police force was stunted by the successive periods of political instability. The dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas, compounded with both the Second World War and the Greek Civil War led to a retardation of reform throughout the late 1930s and early to mid-1940s. After the war however, British experts were brought in to help reform the police along the lines of the British Police, as a result, after 1946 the police force ceased to be a part of the Defence Ministry, however even then it did not abandon its military features and was still prevalently a military based institution. The Civil war of the period also contributed to excesses on both sides (government forces and the guerillas of the communist led Democratic Army of Greece), torture and abuse of human rights were widespread especially during the early periods of the war when parts of the country where in a state of near lawlessness. Despite this, after the war the police force did reach a respectable level of civilian policing throughout the mid-1960s which was stunted by the rise to power of the Military dictatorship of the Colonels from 1967 to 1974 where it was largely employed as a method of quelling popular discontent along with the newly established Greek Military Police force of the dictatorship.
After the fall of the Colonels the Greek Military Police was eventually disbanded and Greece became a Republic. Despite strong opposition from the Gendarmerie, in 1984 both the city police and the Gendarmerie were merged into a single unified Greek Police Force which maintained elements of a military structure and hierarchy. Because of the long tradition of militaristic elements within the structure of the police even the Council of State of Greece ruled that the police should be regarded as a military body and that members are not civilians but members of the military engaged in a wider role together with the Armed Forces to supplement the Army in defence of the homeland. This has however in recent years been relegated to policing duties such as border patrols and combating illegal immigration and is not reflective of any de facto military duties outside of that of a defensive role in the event of an invasion. Today the Greek Police assist in training various emerging Eastern European and African police forces and Greece has one of the lowest crime rates within the European Union.
In 2013, the Cyber Crime Center of the Hellenic Police, under the auspices of the Ministry for Citizens Protection, organised a number of Conferences  all over the country, to inform kids and parents about the dangers that a child can have while using the internet.
The Cyber Crime Center of the Hellenic Police, which is currently run by Police Brigadier General Emmanuel Sfakianakis  (a highly skilled agent trained by the F.B.I.), has intervened in an extremely large amount of suicide attempts  saving altogether over 600 lives.
A significant part of the training for officers of all posts, is the protection and safeguarding of the well-being of children, while any form of child abuse is faced with the "Zero Tolerance" policy .
Additionally, the Hellenic Police has shown an active support, with a financial donation  at the Children's Smile (Greek: Το Χαμόγελο του Παιδιού) and the reassurance that the agency was, is and will remain "for life", an active supporter of the Organization.
There are several current issues affecting the police in Greece today, of particular importance is the rise in drug related crimes, sometimes attributed to increased immigration from Albania and other former Eastern Bloc countries, this has particularly affected Athens and in particular Omonoia Square which has become a central point for drug-related activities within Greece.
Illegal immigration is also a problem as Greece remains both a destination and transit point for illegal immigrants, particularly from Albania (as well as increasingly African and Asian countries). There has been an effort in recent years to step up the security procedures along Greece's borders (though some allege there has been too much of a heavy handed approach to this issue). The issue of the recruitment of immigrants has also been brought up by opposition PASOK MPs in Parliament several times.
Greece is also one of the few EU countries where there is a rising crime rate, though comparatively the crime rate is still very low by EU standards. Some also allege there is a division within the Greek Police force between the 'Modern' and 'Traditional' elements, they claim the traditional element is underpinned by the long history of links with the military whereas the 'Modern' element is geared towards the police playing a greater social role in society (for example, drug rehabilitation).
Hellenic Police is a very well structured agency with every unit that such an organisation can have. The policemen that are composing the special units, are highly trained not only in the armed forces, but also in foreign agencies while a large number of its personnel holds various University degrees. Although it is extremely effective and known for its "No-Mistakes" policy, it is an agency which is based on very friendly and cooperative relations with the citizens.
Its most current implausible operation was the tracking down and arrest of an extremely violent criminal that abused a 14-year-old girl and abandoned her severely injured on a beach in the island of Paros. The operation which was focused around an individual that was holding a fake identity, was based on a single assisting clue, which was the criminals' colour of skin and a hypothetical country of origin (residing in a city with 5,5 million inhabitants). Less than two weeks from the day that the search began, after an operation that was planned and executed in such a way that anything alike can be seen only in the cinema, the criminal that initially denied  any involvement in the case finally confessed his actions, just a few hours before he was to depart from Greece.
According to some organizations Greek police has been accused of overt and, generally unpunished, brutality, in specific cases like after the 2008 Greek riots and during the 2010–2012 Greek protests sparked by the Greek government-debt crisis. Amnesty international has issued a detailed report on police violence in Greece, concerning its practices in patrolling demonstrations, treatment of illegal immigrants, and other, while the Human Rights Watch has criticized the organization concerning its stance against immigrants and allegations of torture of detainees and the Reporters Without Borders have accused the police of deliberately targeting journalists.
Furthermore, it has been accused of allegedly planting evidence on detainees and mistreatment of arrested individuals. A 29-year-old Cypriot man, Avgoustinos Dimitriou, has been awarded €300,000 in damages following his videotaped beating by plainclothed police officers during a 2006 demonstration in Thessaloniki.
The "communicating vessels" between Police and Neo-Nazis re-surfaced on the occasion of riot that broke during protest on march June 28, 2011, when squads of riot police rushed to protect agents provocateurs isolated by the angry crowd, two of them A. Soukaras and A. Koumoutsos both unionists of ETHEL (ΕΘΕΛ) well known for both their extreme opinions, as well as their ferquent presence in riots.
Coalition of Radical Left controversies
At early November 2012, the minister of Public Order, Nikolaos Dendias, accused various MPs of the Coalition of Radical Left of "impersonating authority". According to the accusations the members of the party stopped a number of policemen while they were on duty in order to check their credentials. Moreover, they took photographs of the plainclothes police officers and uploaded them on the Internet site of the party (left.gr). The accusations prompted an angry reply from the party's spokesman, who replied that they are "dirty accusations".
Allegations of ties with Golden Dawn
In a 1998 interview with the newspaper Eleftherotypia, Minister for Public Order Georgios Romaios (PASOK) alleged the existence of "fascist elements in the Greek police", and vowed to suppress them. In a TV interview that same year, Romaios again claimed that there was a pro-fascist group within the police, although he said it was not organized and was only involved in isolated incidents. The same year, Eleftherotypia published a lengthy article called, "The lower limbs of the police", which outlined connections between the police and neo-fascism. Dimitris Reppas, the PASOK government spokesman, strongly denied such connections. However, the article quoted a speech by PASOK MP Paraskevas Paraskevopoulos about a riot caused by right wing extremists, in which he said:
"In Thessaloniki it is widely discussed that far-right organisations are active in the security forces. Members of such organisations were the planners and chief executioners of the riot and nobody was arrested. A Special Forces officer, speaking at a briefing of Special Forces policemen that were to be on duty that day, told the policemen not to arrest anyone because the rioters were not enemies and threatened that should this be overlooked there would be penalties."
Before the surrender of Androutsopoulos, an article by the newspaper Ta Nea claimed that the neo-Nazi political party Golden Dawn had close relationships with some parts of the Greek police force. In relation to the Periandros case, the article quoted an unidentified police officer who said that "half the force wanted Periandros arrested and the other half didn't". The article claimed that there was a confidential internal police investigation which concluded that:
- Golden Dawn had very good relations and contacts with officers of the force, on and off duty, as well as with rank and file police.
- The police provided the group with batons and radio communications equipment during mass demonstrations, mainly during celebrations of the Athens Polytechnic uprising and during rallies by left-wing and anarchist groups, in order to provoke riots.
- Periandros and the group's connections with the force largely delayed his arrest.
- Periandros' brother, also a member of Golden Dawn, was a security escort of an unnamed New Democracy MP.
- Many Golden Dawn members were illegally carrying an assortment of weapons.
The newspaper published then a photograph of a typewritten paragraph with no identifiable insignia as evidence of the secret investigation. In the article, the Minister for Public Order, Michalis Chrysochoidis, responded that he did not recollect such a probe. Chrysochoidis also denied accusations that far right connections within the police force delayed the arrest of Periandros. He said that leftist groups, including the ultra-left anti-state resistance group 17 November, responsible for several murders, had similarly evaded the police for decades. In both cases, he attributed the failures to "stupidity and incompetence" on behalf of the force.
Golden Dawn stated that rumours about the organisation having connections to the Greek police and the government are untrue, and that the police had intervened in Golden Dawn's rallies and had arrested members of the Party several times while the New Democracy party was in power (for example, during a rally in Thessaloniki in June 2006, and at a rally for the anniversary of the Greek genocide, in Athens, also in 2006). Also, on January 2, 2005, anti-fascist and leftist groups invaded Golden Dawn's headquarters in Thesaloniki, under heavy police surveillance. Although riot police units were near the entrance of the building alongside the intruders, they allegedly did not attempt to stop their actions.
In more recent years, anti-fascist and left-wing groups have claimed that many of Golden Dawn's members have close relations (and/or collaborating) with the Greek Central Intelligence Agency (KYP), and also accused the party's general-secretary Nikolaos Michaloliakos of working for the KYP from the 80s. The evidence for this is an allegedly fake[third-party source needed] public document, a payslip, showing the names of both Nikolaos Michaloliakos and Konstantinos Plevris as operating for the agency.
In July 2012, it was reported that Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, had placed the alleged ties of Greek Police and Golden Dawn under scrutiny, following reports of the Greek state's continued failure to acknowledge the problem.
According to political analyst Paschos Mandravelis, "A lot of the party's backing comes from the police, young recruits who are a-political and know nothing about the Nazis or Hitler. For them, Golden Dawn supporters are their only allies on the frontline when there are clashes between riot police and leftists.
Following the May 6, 2012 Greek Parliamentary election, in which Golden Dawn entered the Greek parliament, it was revealed that more than one out of two police officers voted for the party in districts adjacent to Athens' Attica General Police Directorate (GADA). Since the election, Greek police officers have been implicated in violent incidents between Golden Dawn members and migrants. In September, one police officer was suspended for participating in a Golden Dawn raid against migrant-owned kiosks in an open market at Mesolongi; seven other officers were identified. Anti-fascist demonstrators were allegedly tortured in police custody that same month. In October, Greek police allegedly stood by while Golden Dawn members attacked a theater holding a production of the controversial play Corpus Christi.
The most common police vehicles in Greece are the white with blue stripes Citroën Xsara, Škoda Octavia, Mistubishi Lancer Evolution X, Hyundai i30 and Citroën C4. Other vehicles that Greek Police has used throughout the years are the following:
- 1984,1985 Mitsubishi Galant
- 1985 Mitsubishi Lancer
- 1985 Daihatsu Charmant
- 1986, 1990, 1992 Nissan Sunny
- 1991 Renault 19
- 1991 Opel Vectra
- 1991 Volvo 460
- 1995 Citroën ZX
- 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000 Opel Astra
- 1996 Suzuki Baleno
- 1997, 1998 Nissan Primera
- 1998,2000 Toyota Corolla
- 1998 Citroën Saxo
- 1998, 1999 Citroën Xantia
- 1998, 1999 Nissan Almera
- 2000 Kia Sportage
The original livery featured white roofs and doors, with the rest of the bodyshell in dark blue. The current livery was first introduced on the Citroen ZX's, although the blue stripe on the earlier models was not reflective,from this became another nickname "stroumfakia"(smurfs) for the Greek police.
Most Greek police vehicles are equipped with a customized Car PC, which offers GPS guidance and is connected directly with the Hellenic "Police On Line" network.
As of 2011, a number of police vehicles are being modified to be equipped with onboard surveillance cameras.
The Hellenic Police Academy was established in 1994 with the voting of law 2226/1994 through Parliament. It is situated in Athens and is under the jurisdiction of the chief of police (i.e. the minister of public order). However the Chief of Police can make recommendations and act as an advisor to the Minister on improvements and other such issues (for example structural reform) pertaining to the Academy. The Minister and the Chief of Police make annual speeches at the Academy to prospective Police Officers. The school is made up of University Professors, special scientists (for areas such as forensics) and high-ranking police officers who have specialist field experience. Entrance to the academy is based on examinations and an interview, though it differs depending on which particular school of the academy the student wishes to join.
The Police Academy includes:
- The School for Police Officers, for high school students who wish to become police officers.
- The School for Police Sergeants, for high school students who wish to become police employees.[clarification needed]
- The School for Postgraduate Education and lifelong learning.
- The National Security School, for high-ranking police personnel (also open to other categories of public servants such as Firemen).
Hellenic Police has a basic requirement of knowledges that apply for all positions within the agency. These are the protection of the Constitution, tackling of criminal activities and assisting in disaster situations. The emphasis during training on the support and protection of children is such, that a number of highly successful individuals that were raised as orphans, have stated that they couldn't say with certainty that they would make it all the way to the top, without the social service that the Hellenic Police provided to them during their childhood.
- Law 1481/1 October 1984, Official Journal of the Hellenic Republic, A-152
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