Regional Maritime Security: Greece
With the seasonal migration of superyachts from winter cruising grounds to the stunning shores of the Mediterranean, Allmode Security Services has compiled a full report on the local security situation and the risks to personal safety. The purpose of these reports is to provide vessels and their crews with up to date information to increase local knowledge and improve their situational awareness.
Situational Awareness (SA) is all about having the information you need to make effective decisions. There will always be occasions when people are required to make critical choices – sometimes at a fast pace – and the vast majority of errors that can occur are as a direct result of failure in situational awareness.
Below are excerpts from the full report.
Traditionally, Greece was considered one of the safest destinations in Europe, with a low crime rate and a reputation for honesty. However, as the economic situation in the country has deteriorated over the last five years, so too have the crime rates. Many attribute this to the rising unemployment figures, especially with the youth market and the influx of immigrants from other countries fleeing war and poverty. With this in mind, it is worth treating Greece in the same way that you would any other European destination and as you would expect, crime in the capital Athens, is far more prevalent than on the many smaller islands spread throughout the Mediterranean.
On the mainland, in the capital Athens, petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and robbery are on the increase. Thefts are common on the city Metro system, carried out by sophisticated and well-practiced gangs of three to four people. The main line targeted, is the line that takes people from the airport towards the city centre. The gangs are on the look-out for newly arrived tourists, who look unfamiliar with their surroundings. The usual pick-pocketing gangs that use distraction techniques and robberies from victims using ATM machines, are no different from that of other European capitals.
The same precautions should be taken from visitors, to avoid becoming a victim of such crimes. Don’t wear your valuables on your sleeve so to speak and avoid unlit or quiet areas where criminals would have no trouble robbing you without being seen. Appear confident when moving around and don’t make it obvious that you are a tourist new to the area. Avoid large gatherings. Athens has seen much more street protests in recent years, due to the economic slump and these can turn violent quickly, with the police responding in a heavy-handed way.
Drug crimes are also on the rise and penalties for those caught with drugs are very severe. If you are caught with drugs and they suspect you of being a trafficker, you can face up to life imprisonment. It can also take over a year before your case is heard, whilst you wait in a Greek jail.
Violent crimes are less common than in other European capitals, but they do occur. Targets of such crimes tend to be political figures, well-known public figures or wealthy industrialists.
Sexual assault crimes remain low in relation to population size, but the number of cases of child pornography appears to be increasing.
The number of traffic fatalities in Greece, is one of the highest per-capita in Europe. Human factors, poor road designs, and general disregard for safe driving practices result in hazardous conditions on roadways for both pedestrians and motorists. Motorcycles and scooters routinely drive between lanes and weave in and out of both moving and stopped traffic, posing significant risk to pedestrians. The massive infrastructure improvements and road construction projects completed prior to the 2004 Olympic Games alleviated some of the congestion in Athens, but a steady increase in the volume of traffic each year until the current economic crisis has decreased the positive impact of these improvements over time.
Excessive speed, distracted driving (e.g. cell phone use), driving in the opposite direction, non-compliance with right of way, and drinking are major factors for accidents. Most accidents occur between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., with accidents peaking during the summer months and the holiday season. The severity of injuries is exacerbated by widespread failure to use safety belts and motorcycle helmets. In addition, the ability to deliver emergency medical treatment immediately following accidents is poor; the response time to accident scenes in Athens is significantly slower than in the U.S. or other European cities.
For more detailed safety information, please refer to the full report.