Reeling from a crushing economic crisis that has put nearly two million people out of work, and with extremism on the increase, Greece is seeing a spike in the number of violent crimes and verbal abuse, police records show, with the likelihood of more tension as the government sets to pass a $17.45 billion spending cut and tax hike plan and start firing public workers.
Statistics show a sharp increase in the number of calls to the police from January to September. “We have seen a rise in violent behavior, both physical and verbal,” 100 emergency hotline operator Sofia Papingioti told Kathimerini. “It is clear that citizens are losing their patience, they are becoming more abrupt and are more ready for a fight.”
In the first nine months of 2012, the 100 hotline had already received 894,000 calls from Attica alone, with the majority coming from Athens and Piraeus. The average for each of the previous three years was at around one million totally each year.
Papingioti also noted that the service receives a lot more calls over “suspicious figures” or ringing car and homes alarms, indicating a high level of fear among citizens. The most calls are made on Fridays and are mainly in regard to alcohol-related altercations.
In the last week of September, police said they stopped and searched some 37,000 suspects across the country last week in a campaign to clamp down on crime. A total of 4,793 were briefly detained and 708 arrested for alleged robberies, thefts and drug-related offenses.
Ironically, the increase in crime has benefited the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which has 18 seats in Parliament and seeing its popularity rise as it puts out vigilante patrols in neighborhood and offers its services to people who said they need protection.