The role of Czech police at the upcoming 52nd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is to be the strongest in its history, the Czech News Agency reported on Friday citing information from regional police spokeswoman Zuzana Týřová. The aim, above all, is to heighten security at so-called ‘soft targets’. Private security is commissioned by the festival itself but organisers say they are working closely with Czech police; the official threat level is currently low. Municipal police also play a greater role during the festival, in traffic and other areas.
The government has given the Czech police a two year extension to boost its numbers according to an already agreed plan. The Cabinet agreed the new time frame on Monday under which the police should now recruit 4,000 extra staff by 2022. The extension was sought because recruitment so far has fallen behind expectations. At the end of 2016, 61 new positions were unfilled with the police facing a total staff shortfall of around 1,360. The target is for the total to reach 44,000. Interior minister Milan Chovanec has long underlined the low starting pay of police, with monthly wages starting at 17,000-18,000 crowns. He said a new warehouse employee could get 25,000. A 10 percent wage increase for police is due to take effect from July 1.
The police presidium has asked for an extension of the time-frame in which the force was expected to increase the ranks of the force by 4,000 men and women to 44,000, the ctk news agency reports. According to a report for the government the recruitment of new officers is not going as fast as expected. The police has asked for a two year extension of the plan until 2022. The government is to decide on the request next week. The police is taking on new recruits also in connection with the heightened threat of terrorism. Since 2015 the police spent 120 million crowns on security measures.
The lower house of parliament has agreed to create an investigative committee to look into the possible leaking of police documents in connection with outgoing finance minister and ANO leader Andrej Babíš. The seven person committee will focus on suspicions that police documents were leaked in connection with tapes which purportedly showed Babíš talking with a former reporter on one of his national newspapers about how to use information discrediting other politicians. Babíš, who stepped down as finance minister on Wednesday, described the move as part of an ongoing campaign against him.
The Czech police have too few experts in computing to combat cyber crime, according to the supreme state attorney, Lenka Bradáčová. Speaking at the Senate on Tuesday, she said the state needed to find such specialists and pay them accordingly. Ms. Bradáčová said crime was moving online and that property crime conducted across borders and by anonymous perpetrators was not the only issue; privacy is also under threat while sexual crimes, including against children, are increasing, she said.
The police have begun investigating how their own sensitive information may have reached the hands of ANO chief Andrej Babiš, the news site Neovlivni.cz reported on Tuesday. The news comes after a recording leaked on Monday appeared to show a now former Mladá fronta Dnes journalist, Marek Přibil, offering Mr. Babiš information from files and wiretaps relating to an ongoing case from the police’s organised crime squad. For his part, Mr. Babiš says Mr. Přibil had been deployed as an agent to infiltrate his MAFRA media organisation. The ANO leader has denied ordering reports damaging to his opponents in MfD (whose owner MAFRA is now in a trust), and questioned why leaks were coming out now, during a government crisis.
Czech airports will be guarded by around 220 more police than hitherto under a Ministry of Interior proposal approved by the government on Wednesday. Most of the extra police, around 200, will be directed to Prague’s Václav Havel airport with around two dozen sent to smaller regional airports such as Pardubice, Brno, Karlovy Vary, and Ostrava. The cost of the extra police is expected to run to around 116 million crowns a year.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has said he has asked the police to clarify the scare surrounding the Blue Whale “suicide game” that is being linked to dozens of teen deaths in Russia. The game is believed to be the work of an online social media group which is encouraging people to kill themselves. The Czech police warned people about it earlier this week. Minister Chovanec said he had given the police a fortnight to provide evidence that the game really presented a danger and was not merely a marketing trick. If the danger is real then the public should get more information, if not then the warning amounts to scaremongering, Chovanec said. The matter is being investigated by the Czech Centre Against Organized Crime.
Some 5,000 people joined in the March for Life through the centre of Prague on Saturday. The demonstrators held up banners reading Children Bring Hope and Scrap the abortion law. The march was attended among others by Cardinal Dominik Duka and a number of Roman Catholic priests. As the demonstrators made their way through Prague they passed several groups of activists who came out to voice support for the right to abortion. Police was out in force to regulate traffic and prevent skirmishes. No incidents were reported. The number of abortions in the Czech Republic has been steadily decreasing. In 2016 doctors performed over 20,000 abortions.
Police say they have charged 21 people in connection with a drugs scandal at a prison house near Pribram in south Bohemia. According to a police spokeswoman over 100 officers took part in a raid on the prison earlier this week, confiscating a vast amount of drugs, tablets and needles. The convicts reportedly bribed the guards to allow them mobiles and turn a blind eye to the fact that drugs were regularly smuggled into the prison in food and personal belongings.