New police intelligence unit to focus on organised crime, hooliganism, poaching

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The Cyprus Police Information Service is gaining independence from the Cyprus Intelligence Service (KYP) to enhance its capabilities in dealing with a wide range of information related to organized crime, including hooliganism. Announcing this development in the parliament on Wednesday, Justice and Public Order Minister Anna Koukkidi-Prokopiou stated that the newly independent service, in collaboration with KYP, would now be responsible for crime prevention and gathering intelligence not only on narcotics but also on organized crime, violence at sports events, organized fans, and poaching activities, which can generate substantial income for criminal organizations. “All of these fall under a new framework, recognizing that the police’s information-gathering efforts need to extend into different domains. We cannot rely solely on KYP, whose role differs as a state intelligence service. In these new circumstances, adjustments must be made, and I believe that in 2024, apart from the organizational independence, we will also give significant emphasis, both as a ministry and as the police, to the new role of the Information Service,” stated the minister. Furthermore, Minister Koukkidi-Prokopiou highlighted that the underworld in Cyprus has been thoroughly mapped out, indicating where it operates and who comprises it. She emphasized that organized crime has existed, exists, and will continue to exist in all EU countries. The minister added that this issue is regularly discussed at EU Council meetings, focusing on strategies to combat organized crime, its revenue generation methods, and its use of technology, cryptocurrencies, and new drug trafficking techniques. During the presentation of the ministry’s budget, the minister also touched upon court decisions related to crimes planned from within prisons. “Yes, there have been crimes organized from within prisons, as mentioned in court decisions. It is a serious matter, which is why the police must enter prisons for various reasons. There is now a different approach to this issue compared to the past,” she stated. Regarding the issue of mobile phones in prisons, Minister Koukkidi-Prokopiou mentioned that since there is no cell phone jamming system in place, intensive checks are conducted within prisons to identify mobile phones to prevent organized criminal activities. She stated, “Our ministry’s approach is that when there is information and warrants, the police must enter prisons and carry out the necessary checks.” The minister also addressed the topic of a cell phone jamming system in prisons, which had faced legal challenges. She explained, “We believed that the specific provider could not meet all the requirements of the agreement we had with them.” She added that efforts by the Ministry of Transport are underway to find a new system, noting that this will take time and is not a straightforward task. In the meantime, increased checks are being conducted inside prisons to locate mobile phones. Additionally, the Minister announced that an anti-drone system would be introduced early next year, which will be implemented in prisons and other services.

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