Renting a single police officer for an hour could cost 30 euros ($39.39), the news agency claimed, while patrol cars would go for 10 euros more, with the hourly fee for patrol boats and helicopters costing 200 and 1500 euros respectively.
According to Greek paper Protothema, the country’s police force had long been providing similar types of security services to private firms for free, such as in escorting the transportation of dangerous material or art works, but may now choose to charge companies for these services as more budget cuts kick in.
The ministry of citizen protection’s press statement added that the police could not be used for any illegal purposes or anything outside of their normal jurisdiction, while rentals would only be accepted if they did not affect the security force’s regular operations.
Still, practically any citizen can hire a police officer, or even a helicopter, if they can afford it, with Greece struggling with a total public debt of over 350 billion euros.
Protothema noted that possible clients for the Greek police were wealthy individuals who may be concerned by the growing violence and criminal activities that were festering in the streets.
In a recent report by Balkanalysis, the research firm said that there had been “a steep increase in organized crime in Greece – a trend accompanied by the country’s ongoing economic crisis and marked by the involvement of transnational crime organizations and illegal immigrant groups."
Der Spiegel also claimed that “murders in Greece have more than doubled since 2006, with the annual figure rising from 83 to 175 in 2010 according to police statistics.”
"Almost a quarter of the Athenian city centre is now considered off-limits by night for those unwilling to risk their valuables and, in some cases, their personal security," wrote Ioannis Michaleto for Balkanalysis.
Hence, hiring some police officers for additional security may make sense for wealthy Greeks, though others have questioned whether the safety of average citizens were now being compromised.
According to Protothema, the prime minister’s office is said to be “extremely displeased” by the ministry of citizen’s protection decision, while some ministry officials were also apparently unaware of the decision made by higher authorities.
The Hellenic Police though argued that such support was already being “offered in several member states of the EU on the same terms, conditions and procedure for approval and payment,” and the police was only trying to recoup any losses made by previous services to private firms.