Up to 3,500 police officers to be let go in the next three years

24-07-2003

What could also happen is that instead of being let go, police officers will be assigned to work in different regions, depending on the required number of officers in the region. It may for instance happen that provincial overstaffed forces will have to send part of their staff to Prague, where many posts are still available.

Up to 3,500 police officers are to be let go in the next three years, according to the government's new proposals. The number of police officers on the beat is an important issue in many countries, with fear of crime rising in many places. Earlier, I asked some people in Prague - both Czechs and tourists - if they were satisfied with the police presence on the streets of the Czech capital.

Do you feel safe while walking in Prague?

"Yes I feel safe, and I have no things to complain of."

Do you think that there are enough policemen on the street?

"Yes I do"

"Yes I've seen many of them"

"Yes I do. I have no problem, we've come home at 1 o'clock, absolutely no problem. And as far as your question is about is there enough policemen all I've seen so far is two of them."

"Same here, I feel quite safe. Mind you, somebody tried to pick my purse in metro, but I'm quite okay. I grabbed him by the hand."

"I don't hear any gunshots which are happening in the city we are close to, Toronto, every day somebody's gunning a shot, I haven't heard any shots here so I would say it's safer than over there."

"I live here all my life so I know places where I have not to go so I feel safe."

"We're from Sweden and if I compare Prague and Stockholm there's no difference, I feel safe. No one has threatened me, and you have much more policemen on the street. I'm very happy to see them because in Stockholm you can see them very seldom. In the cars maybe, but walking around very seldom."

Police officers say that with the reduced staff they won't be able to solve criminal cases efficiently since the number of their workload is constantly increasing. They are also afraid that, for young people, joining the force will become less attractive because job prospects will be reduced. For their part, the government says that professional police officers will not be dismissed. They hope to see officers transferred to places with understaffed forces, such as Prague.

Finally, the reduction of people working in police departments and fire brigades will most likely happen with the retirements of senior officers. Their posts will cease to exist once they retire, so there will be no need to lay off younger people. In the last year alone, 2,000 people retired or quit.

The proposed reduction in the number of police officers and firefighters still has to be ratified by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and approved by the Government in September.

24-07-2003