Almost €15 million has been paid to police officers for overtime work up until the end of September this year, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou said on Tuesday.
Speaking to the House finance committee during discussion of her ministry’s budget, she said the €14.5 million was paid to the police for overtime for functions such as security for mass gatherings, terrorism-related issues, crime prevention, policing sports venues, road safety and illegal migration.
The amount spent on overtime far exceeded the €5.3 million originally budgeted in the 2023 state budget.
For 2024, the ministry’s total budget comes to €452 million. Of this, €350 million – or about 77 per cent – concerns payroll.
Of the €452 million, €349 million has been earmarked for the police alone.
At the same meeting, Procopiou said the ministry is working on amending legislation that would allow juvenile offenders to be detained in segregated spaces within the central prisons.
She said the necessary amendments to the law have been processed in collaboration with experts from the University of Cyprus. The Commissioner for Children’s Rights has provided her feedback, and the paperwork is now with the attorney-general’s office for legal vetting.
Once the amendments are vetted, they will go before the cabinet for approval, and then submitted as a bill to parliament.
For the justice ministry, this issue is a priority, Procopiou said.
In 2024, the government is expected to issue a call for tenders for the contract to build a dedicated space for juvenile offenders within the central prisons complex.
Taking reporters’ questions later, the minister clarified that the amendments are intended to allow for the possibility of holding minors at the prisons.
Minors would be segregated from adults, she added.
“In the event a minor needs to be held at the central prisons, we will make the necessary arrangements so that they don’t come into contact with adult inmates.”
In addition to the premises of the central prisons, special detention centres could be created to hold juvenile offenders.