By Elias Hazou
THE government has dismissed accusations of nepotism regarding the en-masse transfers in the police force announced over the long weekend.
The flash announcement that some 150 police officers of various ranks were being transferred was made on Saturday, prompting complaints from several affected members of the force. Those affected report to their new posts today.
At a news conference yesterday, AKEL’s Christos Christofides spoke of “sudden, mass, and non-meritocratic transfers which continue to puzzle citizens and the police force.”
“Unfortunately, these transfers have been based on political and party criteria,” he charged.
The fact that the transfers were announced ‘on the quiet’ over the long weekend also raises suspicions, Christofides said.
He accused the justice minister of deciding the transfers on his own without consulting the police force.
Christofides rubbished the minister’s contention that the transfers are part of the system of interchangeability, or rotation, within the police force and the broader civil service. This, he said, was refuted by the fact that some of the officers transferred had served in their former posts for just a few months.
Countering, justice minister Ionas Nicolaou said there was nothing untoward with the move, and challenged AKEL to back up its claims with hard evidence.
Nicolaou said the transfers were decided in consultation with the police leadership after assessing police needs in the districts.
In some cases, he said, special constables have been assigned non-field duty, such as archiving.
“We did not want senior police officers to be stuck behind desks filing away papers,” he said.
Weighing in, the head of the police association Andreas Symeou said no complaints were lodged with the association.
He went on to wonder why the complainants had apparently voiced their grievances to AKEL, a political party, and not to their own association.
Symeou said the transfers had long been expected, as several police officers retired recently and their positions needed to be filled.
And such transfers are always announced on weekends, he said, to give the officers time to prepare for the move.
Symeou dismissed allegations that some of the transfers were ‘vindictive’.