CYPRUS: Police reform on track despite minor setbacks

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Despite minor delays due to red tape, plans to reform the Cyprus police are on track with the force undergoing its first major revamp since the founding of the Republic in 1960.


The Justice Ministry is going ahead with a call for tenders to hire consultants tasked with drafting a roadmap for restructuring the force to “ensuring the police are in a position to fulfil their duty to society”.


Originally expected to be completed by 2022, delays may see the project completed in 2023 as attempts to call for tenders for consultants were challenged, as procedures were not followed to the letter, bringing about a few months delay.


Former Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou had told the Financial Mirror that this is the first holistic reorganisation of the police force since its establishment in 1960.


Upon Nicolaou stepping down from office in May, the project came under the auspices of a committee including members of the Police and the Justice Ministry.


Talking to the Financial Mirror, Assistant Chief of Police for Administration Christakis Mavris said the state has already called for tenders for two of the four areas of the reform


Mavris said restructuring will be carried out after the completion of four separate studies by private sector consulting firms.


“We have already received a show of interest from the world’s top consultants in the field and we expect the whole process to be concluded before next summer.”


The contracts cover the organizational model, structure, training and placing officers at departments according to their capabilities and skills, and the fourth contract will be awarded to a partner who will monitor the whole reform process.


Mavris said that today more than ever, it is evident that the existing organisational structure of the police requires immediate, effective and structural interventions to cope with the contemporary demands of public safety.


Once studies are completed, the police, in consultation with the Ministry, will be able to determine priorities and strategic objectives.


To establish a system of meritocracy where officers will be motivated to give their best, one of the things to change is the way police officers are hired and advance on the promotion ladder.


Talking to the Financial Mirror, a police recruitment officer said that one of the changes already implemented is the abolishment of private interviews to rid the hiring process of any favouritism.


Nicolaou had said that the reform will see the force being upgraded with the hiring of scientific personnel.


“With the times changing, there is a need for officers who are savvy with advances in cyber technology and crime, which in turn have brought about changes in financial crime,” said Nicolaou.


While the police employ a number of specialists such as criminologists, analysts, psychologists and chemists, more bright minds are needed.


Mavris said the force currently employs non-uniform personnel recruited to carry out specific tasks, according to needs while there is a need for recruiting more scientists.


“Whether this will be done through the ranks of the police or scientists will be hired as civilian staff, is something that will be taken up by the studies.”


In rare cases, some civilian personnel have joined the force after training at the Police Academy. He explained that this happened for them to be able to advance their careers.


New recruitments delayed


Meanwhile, procedures for hiring some 256 police officers 56 of which are for the fire department and 30 are special constables, are being held up by a backlog at state hospitals.


Candidates have undergone a written examination which needs to be followed by a physical examination, medicals and a narcotest, the dates of which have yet to be announced.


Candidates must have their medicals at state hospitals, but due to the work overload caused by the newly introduced General Health System, examinations have been pushed back by a few weeks.


A Recruitment Officer said that hopefully, they will be able to complete procedures sometime in early 2020.


Successful recruits will undergo a paid three-year training course at the police academy.


Candidates will begin training immediately once procedures are completed, as the Police Academy will alter the academic schedule to accommodate new recruits.


There will be a second wave of 250 recruits in 2020, the cost of which has been included in the state budget.


The new recruitments are not part of the reform but are to fill some 600 vacancies created by the freeze on hiring’s imposed during the crisis years 2013-2018.


According to current procedures, academic qualifications do not play any role as to which department people are assigned, nor does it affect the level of salary. Academic qualifications will only earn the holder priority points at entry-level.


Currently, the force employees 4,912 officers, of which 1,252 are women and 655 are firefighters.