Law enforcement in 'catastrophic' state

Latvia's law enforcement and legal systems came in for sharp scrutiny Wednesday with Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers expressing concern about the current state of play. 

Speaking on Latvian Radio's morning news bulletin, Kalnmeiers expressed concern at the low quality of police work he encounters in his role and called on politicians and police chiefs to address the situation.

"The quality of investigations is low and that is a huge problem," Kalnmeiers said.

"The current state of investigations by the State Police is approaching a disastrous situation... probably the worst it has been in the last 15 years," Kalnmeiers said.

Low salaries, high staff turnover and a general lack of interest in police work contributed to a grave state of affairs, Kalnmeiers said, while admitting police are overworked and investigations last too long.

Key police departments such as the Economic Crimes Bureau (ECB) - which is responsible for investigating major frauds and bank crime worth billions of euros - are chronically understaffed, Kalnmeiers said, claiming the ECB has just 20 full time investigators on its payroll. 

In response, police chief Ints Kuzis said that while things could be better, he expected things to improve in 2016 when new pay schemes and working conditions for police officers kick in. 

"The frequent turnover of staff and the loss professionals [following budget cuts] since 2010, has of course caused us problems. The State Police provides two basic functions: protecting the public and fighting against crime. If you look at the situation as a whole, these functions are performed. Of course, you can say that quality should be improved. But to say that we do not fulfill these functions would be wrong," Kuzis said.

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