By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
A British man has died in hospital after he became the latest victim of violent attacks in Albufeira, which have led to the Portuguese Ministry of Internal Administration (equivalent to the UK’s Home Office) pledging to provide increased security in the tourist hotspot.
Ian Haggath, a 50-year old visitor to the region from Gateshead in the north east of England, had been on holiday staying at the Hotel Janelas do Mar in the Montechoro area of Albufeira when he was attacked at around 4.15am on May 15.
A GNR police spokesman told the Algarve Resident: “We do not know if the man was conscious or not as the emergency teams arrived before the police and were already carrying out rescue operations. We believe that a person unrelated to the victim called the 112 emergency number, which automatically alerted both the GNR and the emergency teams.”
The spokesman confirmed that there have as yet been no arrests in the case, although it is being investigated by the police.
“We have no indication that the man had been robbed, although at the moment there is a lot of speculation surrounding this case,” added the spokesman.
Ian Haggath was admitted to hospital in Faro but was pronounced dead on May 25.
A spokesman from Faro Hospital told the Algarve Resident: “The man had been found on the street and INEM emergency services brought him to the hospital for treatment.
“An autopsy is being carried out at the Faro Legal Medical Institute to hopefully aid the investigation and determine the cause of death.”
The spokesman added: “He had sustained several injuries, including head traumas, and was pronounced clinically dead. Family members were present throughout his hospitalisation and he died on May 25.”
The death of Ian Haggath has sparked a wave of media interest both in Portugal and in the UK and Ireland where newspapers, radio stations and news channels have been reporting on the level of violence in Albufeira.
The level of policing has been called into question in an area which is known for being popular with foreign tourists of all nationalities, including British and Irish.
“We are aware that there have been violent attacks on tourists recently and regret what happened to Mr Haggath,” said the GNR spokesman.
“The recent cases of violent attacks in Albufeira are concerning. Last year, Vilamoura was considered to be a more critical area for this type of incident but it seems the problem has shifted to Albufeira.”
Due to the serious nature of the violent crimes in Albufeira, increasing incidents (turn overleaf) and following the national and international media coverage of the problem, a response to the crime levels in Albufeira and the Algarve in general has now been offered by the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI).
In a statement to the Algarve Resident, a spokesman from MAI said: “The Algarve is a privileged tourist destination for both national and foreign tourists and every year security forces are reinforced as part of the Safe Summer Operation. This operation involves intensified patrolling and adjusted policing levels in order to be able to increase operational capacity in the most popular tourist areas.
“In addition to this greater police visibility, we also intend to increase the feeling of safety in beach areas, commercial zones, on major roads and in tourist areas.”
In the Algarve, there are currently 1,224 GNR officers and 866 PSP officers, with 172 GNR officers serving in Albufeira.
MAI added: “It is important to note that MAI has given instructions to the GNR and the PSP forces to increase their presence, visibility and operational activity in the Algarve region to raise levels of security and intensify crime prevention.”
MAI also provided statistics to back up their claims that the Algarve remains a safe tourist destination: “In the Algarve, overall crime was down by 7.9% in the first quarter of 2011 in comparison to the same period in 2010 with serious and violent crime down by 21.7% during the same period.
“There has been one murder in 2011, a lower number than last year, and apart from the decline in homicides there was also a drop in street robberies, such as pick pocketing and bag snatching, of more than 20%.”
According to the MAI statistics, crime levels are also specifically down in Albufeira, with violent and serious crime down by 21.5% in 2010 in comparison with 2009 and the trend continuing in this first quarter, with violent crimes already down by 9.7%.
The Civil Governor of the Algarve, Carlos Silva Gomes, told the Algarve Resident: “Security issues are of permanent concern and they are monitored daily by all the security forces in the region.
“There is an ongoing effort by all institutions to continue with the detection of crime and the eradication of the causes that may lead to new outbreaks of crime.”
The Civil Governor noted that the official crime level statistics from MAI showed that the level of crime in Portugal was down by 0.6% in 2010 in comparison to 2009 with the Algarve registering a fall of 1.3% for the same period.
“These falling crime level results are associated with a security strategy that has been developed in the region to strengthen the forces and improve policing with new technology.
“It must be remembered that according to the Annual National Security Report (RASI), Portugal was ranked number 15 in comparison to other European countries for safety and this data allows us to reaffirm the Algarve as one of the safest tourist destinations in Europe,” added Carlos Silva Gomes.
Meanwhile, according to data from EUROSTAT, Portugal has the second lowest level of criminality in the European Union per 1,000 inhabitants.
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