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Kakopetria seeks help as students run amok

Police on Tuesday said they are taking all necessary measures to prevent vandalism in Kakopetria following reports by residents about the bad behaviour of visiting students who they say inundate the village at weekends.

The case emerged after a Kakopetria resident made a cry for help on state broadcaster CyBC over the large numbers of students that flock to the mountain resort to spend the weekend in hotels and apartments of the area.

Students, he said, damage cars and houses, cause disturbance until the early hours and even pose a threat to the safety of residents of old Kakopetria.

“Last weekend they threw lit torches in the street and on houses. Luckily, we rushed to see to this, otherwise the whole neighbourhood would have gone up in flames,” the resident said. The houses in old Kakopetria, he said, are made from wood and are built “the one glued to the other”. In addition, he said, the streets are so narrow a normal car can barely pass let alone a fire engine. “What if the houses caught fire?” he said.

He added that each year, every weekend between October and February – and every day during the Christmas holidays – organised student groups visit the village on field trips and cause disturbance by screaming and swearing in the streets until early morning hours, ringing the church bell, throwing stones at houses, kicking doors, “on one occasion they even punctured the tyres of the cars of an entire neighbourhood”.

“Are we to bear this every weekend?” the man asked. “Up to 700 people come here, we are 800. How are we to keep them under control?”.

Most of the people living in old Kakopetria are seniors, he said, while some 300 students go there on the weekends.

He added that the small number of officers at the Kakopetria police station are unable to control them. “Two weeks ago, they punched a female police officer and knocked her down,” he said.

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said that on weekends the area’s police division activates a plan to prevent such phenomena.

“Kakopetria has 1,200 permanent residents and around 50 recreation centres and a number of hotels. There is indeed increased mobility of 16 to 18-year-old students on weekends,” Angelides told CyBC.

Between 2015 and 2016, he said, there were five reported cases in Kakopetria concerning students – three concerned vandalism and two bodily harm. Three more cases, he said, concerned drugs – two for the possession of small quantities of cannabis by students, and one concerning a person that was providing drugs to others.

Angelides said the police have also reported recreation centres in the area for indoor smoking, for the presence of minors in such premises and for selling tobacco and alcohol without a licence.

As regards the Christmas season, he said that it appears that an increased number of people are set to visit Kakopetria based on hotel reservations so far.

“Police will do their job, and if reinforcements are necessary, this is what it will be done,” he said.

The head of the secondary education parents’ association Petros Koulermos said that these field trips are not organised by the education ministry or by schools but by students themselves.

“We inform parents that they are not organised by schools and urge them not to consent to their children participating because there is no-one to supervise them,” Koulermos said.

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