The 500 “new” police officers joining the force this year announced by Justice Minister Marios Hartsiotis are actually just planned hires to fill vacancies, a ministry spokesman clarified on Wednesday.

“This announcement was made by the minister. These are vacant positions existing within the force, and the plan is to fill them,” the spokesman told the Cyprus Mail.

“Therefore, logically, the cost of hiring them falls within the police budget.”

He added that they were “not extraordinary hires”.

“No minister or whoever else has the right to announce and order on the spot the hiring of 500 new police officers,” he said.

Additionally, he said the figure of 500 likely includes police academy graduates who will graduate into the force.

Minister Hartsiotis said on Tuesday “we cannot wait for staffing procedures” in the hiring of new staff.

He had added that these hires will provide a “partial solution” to understaffing within the police force.

The announcement was made in the wake of growing concerns over organised crime and violent football hooliganism.

In Famagusta on Wednesday, Hartsiotis said he intends “to make decisions for a more efficient operation of the entire police force”.

He also said the Famagusta region faces unique challenges, including the large number of migrants landing in the area, and the large number of tourists the region receives.

He said he had discussed these matters with local police, and that “very beneficial, very useful suggestions” had been made to the ministry in this regard.