• Simon

Security and Crime Report - Greece

This is just a brief overview and in fact is a couple of years out of date I have highlighted where this could effect Alonissos.

Traditionally, Greece was considered one of the safest destinations in Europe, with a low crime rate and a reputation for honesty. However, as the economic situation in the country has deteriorated over the last five years, so too have the crime rates. Many attribute this to the rising unemployment figures, especially with the youth market and the influx of immigrants from other countries fleeing war and poverty. With this in mind, it is worth treating Greece in the same way that you would any other European destination and as you would expect, crime in the capital Athens, is far more prevalent than on the many smaller islands spread throughout the Mediterranean.

On the mainland, in the capital Athens, petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and robbery are on the increase. Thefts are common on the city Metro system, carried out by sophisticated and well-practiced gangs of three to four people. The main line targeted, is the line that takes people from the airport towards the city centre. The gangs are on the look-out for newly arrived tourists, who look unfamiliar with their surroundings. The usual pick-pocketing gangs that use distraction techniques and robberies from victims using ATM machines, are no different from that of other European capitals. The same precautions should be taken fromvisitors, to avoid becoming a victim of such crimes. Don’t wear your valuables on your sleeve so to speak and avoid unlit or quiet areas where criminals would have no trouble robbing you without being seen. Appear confident when moving around and don’t make it obvious thatyou are a tourist new to the area. Avoid large gatherings. Athens has seen much more street protests in recent years, due to the economic slump and these can turn violent quickly, with the police responding in a heavy-handed way.

Drug crimes are also on the rise and penalties for those caught with drugs are very severe. If you are caught with drugs and they suspect you of being a trafficker, you can face up to life imprisonment. It can also take over a year before your case is heard, whilst you wait in a Greek jail.

Violent crimes are less common than in other European capitals, but they do occur. Targets of such crimes tend to be political figures, well-known public figures or wealthy industrialists.

Sexual assault crimes remain low in relation to population size, but the number of cases of child pornography appears to be increasing.

The number of traffic fatalities in Greece, is one of the highest per-capita in Europe. Human factors, poor road designs, and general disregard for safe driving practices result in hazardous conditions on roadways for both pedestrians and motorists. Motorcycles and scooters routinely drive between lanes and weave in and out of both moving and stopped traffic, posing significant risk to pedestrians. The massive infrastructure improvements and road construction projects completed prior to the 2004 Olympic Games alleviated some of the congestion in Athens, but a steady increase in the volume of traffic each year until the current economic crisis has decreased the positive impact of these improvements over time. Excessive speed, distracted driving (e.g. cell phone use), driving in the opposite direction, non-compliance with right of way, and drinking are major factors for accidents. Most accidents occur between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., with accidents peaking during the summer months and the holiday season. The severity of injuries is exacerbated by widespread failure to use safety belts and motorcycle helmets. In addition, the ability to deliver emergency medical treatment immediately following accidents is poor; the response time to accident scenes in Athens is significantly slower than in the U.S. or other European cities.

Active terrorist groups:

Revolutionary Struggle, which gained notoriety in 2007, after attacking the U.S Embassy with a rocket propelled grenade, are an anti-globalisation and anarchist movement, promoting anti-capitalist ideology. As the economic situation in Greece has deteriorated, the numbers involved in this movement has grown, especially with the young and disenfranchised. The group have been charged with assassinations of government officials and the bombings of police stations, banks and other representations of national interest.

Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei is an indigenous anarchist group that was designated as a terrorist organization in 2011. The group first appeared in 2008 in connection with a wave of firebombing attacks, but is most known for a series of package bombs in 2010 that targeted foreign embassies, diplomats, and European leaders. Statements from the group are particularly anti-capitalist. Members of Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei were arrested for armed robbery of a bank in northern Greece in February 2013.

In January 2013, a small IED exploded at a shopping mall in the Maroussi suburbs of Athens, supposedly planted by an unknown home-grown terrorist group, in an apparent politically motivated attack. In another similar attack, a bomb exploded in March 2013, outside a Greek ship owners house in a crowded pedestrian area, not far from the Acropolis.

In April 2014, a car bomb exploded outside the Bank of Greece, in the heart of Athens causing damage, but no injuries. Warnings are given to local newspapers and websites about the bombs prior to their detonation.

Many of these home-grown anarchist groups, such as the recently formed K*Vox are found in the bohemian Athens district of Exarchia, where cafes are used to promote and recruit potential activists. Recent attacks in Greece have been carried out by newly formed groups such as Lovers of Lawlessness, Wild Freedom and Instigators of Social Explosion, Gangs of Consciousness, Lonely Wolf, the Untouchable Cell of Revenge and most recently, Untamed Desires, all of whom target political figures or representatives of the judiciary and promote waging "urban guerrilla warfare" against the state.

On the other side of the coin, far right political groups are gaining in popularity, such as the Golden Dawn party, which has risen to as much as 14 percent in voting polls after winning support with free food hand-outs for Greeks and fierce anti-immigrant rhetoric. Attacks against immigrants, who are seen as a strain on the stretched economy of Greece, are on the increase.

Social media allows such groups to operate all across Greece, but most incidents to date are centred around the commercial capital, Athens. However, a recent case involving four young anarchists from middle-class families, when they attempted to rob a bank in the town of Velventos using AK-47’s, has brought the groups widespread support. The police brutality surrounding the case was well publicised in Greece and attempts by the police to hid the truth, by photo-shopping the pictures of the young men, has backfired on the authorities. More attacks like this are promised in the future.

Greek Islands have not been affected in the same way as the mainland, but sensible precautions are advised and as more visitors are encouraged to the islands, traditional customs and ways of life will undoubtedly change. Overall, however, the Greek islands are still considered to be the safest places in Europe.


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