Fake and malicious complaints made against police will become a criminal offence, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou said on Thursday, adding that ministry will be promoting a bill regarding the issue.

Speaking at the house audit committee attended by the police chief Stelios Papatheodorou and auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides, Procopiou said people cannot be making malicious complaints that will harm others without any consequences.

However, she added that people should not be discouraged to file complaints of illegal activities occurring.

According to Procopiou, the plan is to criminalise the fake complaints filed against police to the oversight body of the authorities.

“Someone should not be allowed to make a false of malicious complaint that could harm other without any consequences,” she said.

In further comments, Procopiou said that the ministry is currently looking into bringing contract soldiers to become part of the police force, after serving in the national guard.

She added that there are currently 724 vacancies in the force.

Procopiou made it clear that the priority of her ministry is the strengthening of the police, while the issue of understaffing is of great concern to them, characterising it as serious. The magnitude of the problem of understaffing is evidenced by the numbers held by the ministry on the matter.

She added that even with four tenders seeking to fill gaps in the police the force, the issue is not being solved.

At the moment, the police are in the process of filling the positions, for the police officers who will take on duties to guard the Green Line, but also for all the cases related to immigration issues.

Earlier in the year, it had been made known that there would be 300 positions to fill for the Green line guards, but in the end only 218 were filled, as interest had been lower.