It is only human nature for most people to believe they are good at what they do.
They might not think of themselves as world-beaters, but they would expect an above-average rating.
Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking: “Oh damn, I’m a rubbish plumber” or “I’m really bad at being a delivery driver” or “I must be the worst lawyer in the world”.
That just doesn’t happen; we might loathe ourselves for many other reasons but being crap at what we do is not one of them.
Cyprus nurtures a non-competitive environment where everyone is just as useless as the next person; nobody expects excellence or even demands it.
Think of the government, civil servants, the public sector, politicians, or the waiter serving you at a restaurant.
Mediocracy flourishes in Cyprus; it can survive in any hostile environment without food, water, or sunlight.
Left ignored, it has infected most of the population with no scientific method of measuring its impact.
It is also impossible to kill, incurable to treat once it has entered your bloodstream, highly contagious and only radical surgery can remove it.
Only if the patient is young enough to care about their job is there any hope of riding the wave of mediocracy where better than average is frowned upon.
By demanding so little from those in authority, society is anaesthetised to the shocking dereliction of duty by those in public office.
Their lack of aspiration, bungling inefficiency, ineptitude and almost callous disregard for the public good does not touch our emotions or trigger calls for change.
Taking responsibility is not taught in schools, the police academy, or the civil service.
As a society, we have lowered our expectations so far; engineers are still drilling in the middle of Antarctica to find them.
Falling standards are met with a shrug of the shoulders, a system disabled by corruption may elicit a raised eyebrow.
For Cypriot officials, the bar of attainment is imaginary; it can’t be seen with the naked eye because it doesn’t exist.
A code of ethics in public life was never top of the government’s wish list because it would spoil the money grab.
It was this apathy, aversion to accountability that enabled a serial killer to roam for nearly three years, chopping up women and children in suitcases and dumping them in the river.
A Greek Cypriot serial killer murdered five foreign women and their two children who were reported missing, but nobody bothered to look.
Apparently, it was just one of those things; it couldn’t be avoided; it happens every day; why look to blame anybody.
It was claimed the police couldn’t be bothered to look for foreign women because they weren’t considered important enough to worry about.
Why should society expect the Cyprus Police to solve serious crimes if they are not very good at it?
According to the Attorney-General, being racist, incompetent, sub-standard or stupid doesn’t qualify police officers for criminal prosecution.
The police have set the bar embarrassingly low, no point blaming individual officers for the system that created them.
Even though the previous Attorney General thought there was evidence to prosecute 15 police officers for dereliction of duty in failing to probe missing person reports, his successor dropped the case.
Last week top lawyer George Savvides ended criminal cases against the 15 for allegedly bungling Cyprus’ first serial killer investigation.
After a thorough re-examination of the cases, Attorney-General Savvides said the prosecution couldn’t prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” the police deliberately neglected their duties.
Although officers assigned to the investigation displayed various degrees of incompetence, there was no proof they did so deliberately.
There was no suggestion they turned a blind eye; they just couldn’t hack it at doing good detective work, which begs the question of why they are wearing a police uniform.
Savvides said failing to connect the dots from women going missing to possibly being murdered did not constitute wilful negligence.
Relatives of the victims allege the police did not go the extra mile because they were foreign women – three from the Philippines and the daughter of one of them, a Romanian mother and daughter and a Nepalese woman.
The Law Office highlighted a “series of systemic problems” within the police concerning its organisation, training, and competence.
It also detected “an underlying racist perception by some of its members”, but that wasn’t enough to go to court.
The case file has been referred back to the Independent Police Complaints Authority for possible disciplinary action — don’t hold your breath.