By Peter Stevenson
JUSTICE Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Wednesday he was fully aware that corruption exists within the police force but that the current government would no longer tolerate it.
He was speaking during a meeting with the police complaints authority (PCA) which handed over their annual reports from 2011 and 2012.
The minister said that he has spoken with the heads of the force to inform them that the government was determined to clamp down on corruption.
“Our efforts are to gain the peoples’ trust again although you cannot ignore the fact that members of the public think twice before informing the police about anything,” he said.
Nicolaou said that the public needed to feel they could trust any member of the police and not just the people they know personally.
The PCA’s annual reports showed that last a year a total of 145 complaints were made compared to 132 the previous year.
Head of the PCA, Andreas Spyridakis outlined three proposals to the minister aimed at improving the work done by the committee.
The first was that the committee should be given the authority to investigate complaints made against people who may not be police officers but may have interfered in a police investigation.
Their second proposal would be to appoint permanent investigators who would have the relevant qualifications and training.
The third was to enhance the overall technical infrastructure in order to enable the committee to conduct investigations without depending on the police.
“We agree with everything the minister has said and we will work closely with the justice ministry and the police,” Spyridakis said.
“Our role is not to hinder the work done by the police but shield it against any malicious, false or inaccurate claims,” he concluded.
Earlier in the day, Nicolaou said that by January 2014 the restructuring of the police force would be complete.
The minister was speaking following a visit to Limassol police headquarters with chief of police Michalis Papageorgiou.
“The plan to restructure the police force is aimed at making it more efficient,” he said.
He explained that the restructuring would see the merger of certain departments to save money on office staff and also strengthening the ranks of frontline police.
“As part of the restructuring plan, a study was completed by experts which has been sent to police leadership and headquarters which would then see certain departments and services merging,” he said.
The minister explained that certain clerical or office duties would be carried out by constables with less experience so that more experienced constables would not waste their time on paperwork and could perform other more important duties.
“We seek to take advantage of police personnel as best we can to become more efficient and to meet our responsibilities,” he said.
He explained that it is very different for constables with only two or three months training to perform clerical work as opposed to a constable with three years training.