Bonfires of the insanity

2 mins read

Cyprus is considered a crime averse country where your property and well-being are relatively safer than many other countries in Europe.

Cypriots like to pride themselves that youngsters are safe from predators; there is no random kidnapping of children or the fear that they are more likely to be found dead when one goes missing.

People feel safe walking the street at night without fear of an unprovoked physical attack or being stabbed.

Apart from party resorts like Ayia Napa in the summer, displays of public rowdiness and drunkenness are not common sights.

But there is a tolerance for delinquent behaviour, a disregard for the rules for respecting others on the road or in the neighbourhood.

There is an inability to have a coherent debate or approach about football hooliganism, killing the game and scaring away families.

There are half-baked ideas of improving security and crowd control but a lack of conviction and real determination to put it away in a box.

Only when there are ugly scenes of violence and disorder do the authorities pay attention and vow something must be done.

And whatever is being done is not enough.

School bullying is another unwanted intrusion that is allowed to fester and grow while the education system seems unable to tackle it effectively.

Again there appears to be an absence of coherent policy and public awareness about how to weed it out of our schools.

To pretend that Cyprus does not suffer the ills of other societies is to neglect the problems that affect the quality of life.

Like anywhere else, Cyprus has organised crime, domestic violence, corruption in public office, poverty and frustration among the disenfranchised.

Strangely, there seems to be little appetite to address crime prevention and punishment issues.

Sure, the media is full of crime stories and injustices, but there is little pressure on the police or government to defend their record or policies on crime.

There is public criticism when the police get it badly wrong, like allowing a serial killer to run amok or wrongly prosecuting a rape victim for lying.

Nevertheless, there is a lack of scrutiny on the police and their effectiveness in tackling or preventing crime.

Apart from catching motorists speeding and rushing to the scene of a crime, what are the police’s priorities?

To root out racism, misogynism, home break-ins, domestic violence, rape cases – what’s the strategy.

Neighbourhood policing was a good idea, but since COVID, I’ve seen very few police engage with the community.

Nobody wants to live in a police state, but very few police are seen walking the streets and interacting with the public.

You only seem to meet a police officer if you are in trouble; mostly, they are seen cruising around in patrol cars.

We shouldn’t need the police to patrol the streets to ensure we behave, but it does stop others from misbehaving.

Easter bonfires

Easter is a time when the younger generations like to pretend Cyprus has been transported back to the Wild West.

People start fires anywhere they choose without supervision or care for private property or potential fire hazards.

Fireworks and bangers are illegal, but you can hear them going off constantly in every town and village.

The police said there was a campaign at Easter to prevent such cavalier and dangerous behaviour, but I never saw one officer near a bonfire or turning up to end the incessant use of bangers.

A child lost his fingers due to this Easter tradition of illegal fireworks which can maim or kill.

There are so many bonfires on Easter Saturday they can be seen from space.

Every year things get out of control, and the police say something must be done until the next time it happens.

The chief of police wants the government to draft legislation that would ensure that the local authority licenses any bonfire gathering.

It is unfathomable why such bonfires are not regulated but allowed to burn unsupervised until the fire service is called to the rescue.

Fires should be respected and conducted in designated safe zones away from residential areas and private property.

Easter bonfire building has become territorial, and a right of passage for many teenage Cypriots, but the situation is disorganised chaos.

Bonfires need to be regulated, or we are just asking for trouble, although it is another example where law and order is not a tune we recognise.