Abusers might be tapped

Domestic violence has now become such a pressing issue for the Portuguese government that the police may be granted permission to tap telephones in a bid to gather evidence against offenders.

During 2002, 11 women reported that they had been raped by their boyfriends and, according to data supplied by the Portuguese Victim Support Association, 2002 also saw 90 cases of physical mistreatment and 75 cases of psychological abuse. The majority of violent attacks are preceded by innumerable death threats and threats of violence, a fact that is leading Portuguese authorities to want to tap telephones of suspected abusers in a bid to trap them in court.

Plácido Fernandes, a prosecutor from the Department of Investigations and Penal Action in Lisbon, defended the controversial new policy under consideration, saying: “The response from the police and judicial system has to be effective and timely. Domestic violence is becoming more and more common and we might have to employ ‘phone tapping services to substantiate a form of behaviour that normally occurs when ‘lovers’ are alone.”

Fernandes went on to say that abusers tend to have common characteristics: “The men are generally older, alcoholics or drug addicts and come from a lower social class.”