The scale of corruption within the police force warrants an internal affairs unit with sweeping powers to deal with the matter in an effort to improve the image of the police force which has taken a beating as of late .
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou disclosed that the measures taken would concentrate on three spheres:
- The introduction of six new bills aimed at strengthening the laws regarding the lifting of secrecy laws surrounding private conversations and personal information when dealing with cases of corruption.
- The adoption of specific logistical measures.
- The adoption of measures relating to human resources.
“In addition to the scale, we are also aware of the types of corruption as described in the recent study into the phenomenon,” said Nicolaou adding that the results had been instrumental in deciding the measures to be introduced.
One of the new measures to be introduced is the creation of an internal affairs unit which will investigate cases of police corruption.
Members of the unit will be protected by a host of measures in order for their investigations to be carried out unhindered and without interference and from their superiors.
“Although the unit will have sweeping powers, they will be within the framework principles defended by the constitution and other human rights conventions,” said Nicolaou.
“The packet of measures to be introduced define offences that are related to corruption, including attempts to stop somebody from reporting such cases, failing to report a case of corruption or covering up a case of corruption,” said Nicolaou.
Nicolaou, however, did not elaborate on the size of the problem.
“Even if a few are guilty of corruption, they damage the image of and the role of the police because those that are guilty are mixed up with organised crime and criminal elements,” said Nicolaou
Nicolaou also said that disciplinary procedures would be changed to ensure that all members of the force were treated equally and to prevent past decisions where police officers received different disciplinary penalties for the same offence.
“The criminal offence is punishable with up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to €50,000,” said Nicolaou referring to the penalties faced by police officers found guilty of corruption.
Nicolaou said that the new proposed bills will also outline the framework in which undercover police officers will operate.