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People involved in organised crime ‘to feel police presence’

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Tuesday that police will be cracking down on organised crime following an incident in Limassol in which two officers were shot, critically injuring one.

In a broad meeting with all departments involved in crime fighting, it was decided that each person involved in organised crime will have to deal with the police’s continuous presence with checks, searches and whatever else necessary.

“The aim is to exercise pressure on these people and convey a message of zero tolerance,” the minister said. “They must feel the police presence because in the last act they have turned against the state, something unacceptable that shows how ruthless these people are.”

Nicolaou was criticised heavily by the opposition following Saturday’s incident. There were also calls for his resignation

The minister shrugged off the criticism, saying he has assumed his share of responsibility, stressing that measures were put in place after a problem was identified.

He reiterated that the force must be allowed to monitor telephone communications.

“There is no law regulating the ability of telephone surveillance,” he said.

He was echoed by the chief of police Zaharias Chrystostomou, who said that when he tells his colleagues abroad that they could not monitor phone communications, their question was ‘how do you expect to tackle organised crime?’

The chief also urged the government to fill some 500 vacant positions in the force.

Chrysostomou said he was not going to disclose the force’s plans but he pledged that organised crime will soon get its response which will be unceasing.

The authorities plan to create a special operations unit based on UK standards that will deal with organised crime.

Central and district crime prevention squads will cease dealing with petty offences such as noise pollution, smoking, etc, which the state should not burden the police with, the chief said.

Smaller offences will be dealt with by local stations until the state decides to relieve the force of them.

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