Measuring millimetres in the Greek police

Supreme Court orders public order ministry to decide height of police hopeful, once and for all

Council of State rules that man who was told he was six millimetres short of the threshold to join the police must be measured again by the public order ministry

Greek police (Photo: Reuters) Greek police (Photo: Reuters) An aspiring policeman who was told he was six millimetres too short to join the force must be measured again "under scientific conditions" by the public order ministry, the Council of State has ruled. 

The country’s supreme administrative court said that the rookie hopeful, whose height has been measured at various times by different officials between 169.4cm and 173cm, must undergo a final height examination “under scientific conditions” at the public order ministry to see if he is eligible to enter the police's training academy.

In 2009, the unnamed man submitted an application to his local police station to sit entrance examinations to join the force. When they measured him, officers found him to be 170cm tall.

The aspiring rookie then passed all health, psychology and physical ability tests, but he failed to pass the height threshold by just six millimetres when officials found he was 169.4cm tall. Two more measurements on the same day confirmed that reading, resulting in the rejection of his application to enter the police training academy.

Aspiring police officers in Greece must be at least 170cm in height, which is the highest minimum in Europe, along with Malta, Romania and Serbia. At 152cm, Belgium has the lowest height requirement. Female applicants in Greece must also be 170cm tall, making them the highest in Europe.

The candidate then took his case to the Administrative Appeals Court of Athens, submitting a certificate from the military officers school stating his height was 173cm, and another from a public hospital, certifying his height was 171cm.

The court ruled in his favour, stating that the difference between 169.4cm and 170cm was “probably due to the fact that the height of a human body is subjected to a temporary reduction during the day”, which it said was confirmed by the military school measurement of 173cm.

The public order ministry, which has authority over the police, then appealed that finding to the Council of State, the country’s supreme administrative court. It rejected the lower court’s ruling because “it unqualifiedly moved to its own substantial assessment that the candidate truly possessed the legally required qualification, that is, the minimum height”. It also said that the conflicting heights presented raise valid doubts as to whether the candidate can qualify to enter the specific school or not.

Following this, the Council of State judges voted in favour of the ministry’s appeal against the appeals court decision, but still referred the case back to the ministry, in order for the young man’s height to be measured again under scientific conditions.

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