A seminar on crime prevention held at São Brás Museum on July 2 attracted more than 100 residents of all nationalities.
The event, jointly organised by Safe Communities Algarve and the GNR, was attended by representatives from the British Consulate and Faro Câmara.
David Thomas, founder of Safe Communities Algarve, and Capitão Paulo Santos, Commander of the GNR Faro, presented a number of topics ranging from the Safe Residence Programme (SRP), crime trends in the Algarve, crime prevention, policing Algarve and the work of Safe Communities Algarve.
Annette Ploeger from Goldra also gave her personal experience in setting up a SRP in her area.
A number of interesting points were raised by participants including how to protect yourself in the home, contacting the GNR, being a victim of crime and people’s experiences with security alarm companies.
The GNR confirmed they waste much time in responding to false alarms due to user error or because of poor alarm settings. Another problem was that many alarm companies did not provide the SRP house number when contacting the GNR after an alarm had been activated, causing delays in the GNR response.
Reaction to the event was positive. Roger Fuller said pertinent information was included and reassuring figures were provided.
Roger Blake said it was “refreshing” to interact with the GNR after many years of concern regarding personal contact with the force and some of the attitudes that have been experienced in the past. “I gained a feeling that we are now both on the same side and will work together to make the Algarve safer,” he said. “I would say the SRP is the most significant progress we have seen in all the years we have been associated with the area.”
Heather Thomson said the GNR would have their work cut out to cope with the deluge of information they are going to receive but “any scheme such as this deserves our support”. “I also think that we should all be responsible for our own safety and security – not just expect others to do the job for us,” she said.
Derek Swallow also from São Brás said: “Since someone forced open our back door whilst we were sleeping, we have been quite anxious about our domestic security. It was nice to be able to meet the GNR officers who are so often maligned.”
Local resident Douglas Hettle said the seminar addressed many of the concerns of residents and was an opportunity to be introduced to the Safe Residence Programme, which is being extended from its initiation in the Algarve to the whole of Portugal. Representatives of the GNR were in attendance to answer questions on the implementation of the scheme so far.
David Thomas of Safe Communities Algarve explained the role of his organisation in providing an online crime prevention service and support for the SRP. The website contains information and crime prevention tips in downloadable format and how to report crime.
David Thomas told the Algarve Resident: “Crime prevention is an issue people are taking seriously and opportunities such as this give those attending the opportunity to meet with the GNR on issues which concern them. We were privileged that the Commander of GNR Faro attended, which reflected his personal commitment and that of the SRP team to provide the best service they can to the community.”
Plans are now being made to hold further joint Safe Communities Algarve-GNR crime prevention seminars throughout the Algarve.
Details can be found on www.safecommunities.algarve.com