5000 police “refuse to enter difficult neighbourhoods”

As many as 5000 police have signed up to a ‘movement’ that ‘refuses to go into difficult neighbourhoods without back-up.

Movimento Zero has grown following the recent condemnation by judges in Sintra of agents involved in agressions in the notorious neighbourhood of Cova da Moura, near Lisbon (click here).

Say reports, it also has to be seen in the context of a former PSP syndicate boss (Manuel Morais) who publicly affirmed that there is racism within the force.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã has run the story as its front page lead today, suggesting agents are refusing to go on regular patrols and considering boycotting roadside ‘Stop operations’.

Movimento Zero “was born in Odivelas PSP station”, says the paper. It has rapidly amassed supporters through a mobile phone app – and the focus is on keeping agents safe.

“The principal appeal is for (agents) to take greater care with safety”, says the paper. “Those in divisions responsible for patrolling problematic neighbourhoods are asked not to enter alone, or accompanied by just one colleague. The idea is to intervene with the support of Rapid Response Teams, equipped and trained to respond to serious cases of disorder”.

Carlos Torres, president of the independent syndicate of police agents, says he is behind the initiative even though it comes from ‘outside the syndicate’.

“We have no one who protects us”, he told CM, while Peixoto Rodrigues, president of the PSP’s unified syndicate said Movimento Zero was “only to be expected after the disgust that Sintra Court’s decision prompted among agents”.

For now it seems to be too early to register the effects of Movimento Zero, or the response among police station chiefs.

Paulo Rodrigues of police syndcate ASPP has told RTP that the government must have the notion “that we are going towards a situation where things could become very difficult”.

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