Rising Juvenile Crime in Greece Highlights Systemic Failures in Youth Justice


A recent surge in juvenile crime and delinquency in Greece has underscored the inadequacies of the system tasked with addressing the needs of troubled youngsters, prompting concerns among experts and practitioners.

Hara Galanou, a lawyer at the Athens Juvenile Probation Service, emphasises that many of the young offenders who end up in the system as aggressors have themselves been victims in the past. This observation sheds light on the complex interplay of factors contributing to youth delinquency.

Despite its critical role, the Athens Juvenile Probation Service operates with a small team of just 17 staff members, including two administrators and a secretary. Last year alone, the service grappled with 925 new cases and a backlog of 1,097 cases from previous years, underscoring the strain on resources.

Probation officers have also noted a troubling shift in the nature of juvenile offences, with an uptick in crimes involving weapons and gang affiliation. Sotiris Efstratiadis, a psychologist at the service, highlights the concerning trend of escalating violence, where incidents that were once resolved through physical force are now increasingly involving weapons such as knives.

In 2023, the Athens Juvenile Court saw a significant increase in referrals for gang membership charges, with 72 suspects brought before the court, compared to 65 in 2022 and just 21 in 2019. This suggests a worrying trend of youth involvement in organised crime and gang activity, posing new challenges for the juvenile justice system.

(Source: Ekathimerini)

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