by SOPHIE MCCARRICK
Crime and safety issues in the Algarve were top of the agenda at a consular outreach event at Albufeira’s Vila Galé Cerro Alagoa on Thursday, October 20, attended by the British Ambassador, the British Consul to the Algarve and other guest speakers.
British Consul Clive Jewell, who accompanied Ambassador Jill Gallard during her first visit to the Algarve this week, discussed the Consulate’s efforts in helping to improve safety in the Algarve.
With an estimated 40,000-plus permanent residents in the Algarve, the consular team is working harder than ever to offer support to those British nationals who find themselves in vulnerable situations such as victims of crime and detainees.
Working closely and establishing stronger links with the GNR police force “has been and is” one of the Consul’s priorities.
“Things will and are changing,” said Clive Jewell, referring to recent GNR figures that showed a significant reduction in cases of crime in the Algarve, particularly in the Albufeira and Loulé areas (see Algarve Resident, October 21 edition).
He believes the close relationship developed between the Consulate and the GNR has led to a more efficient approach in what concerns the safety of citizens, particularly British residents and tourists in the Algarve.
These connections are “a step in the right direction” for crime prevention and are expected to improve the way police forces and the consulate work in the Algarve, a tourist focused region.
Clive Jewell added that good communication with Albufeira Mayor Desidério Silva and the Câmara is also developing, a sign that the municipal authority is keen to bring Portuguese and foreign communities in the council together.
A consular surgery to assist the Consulate in Portimão was recently set up in Albufeira to support British nationals in the area, particularly in view of recent crime cases involving British tourists.
Clive Jewell confirmed the office has been well received and provides a vital service in the area.
David Thomas from The Independent Security Agency, ISECA, spoke of the organisation’s objectives in developing its services within the community and providing up-to-date information to foreign residents in the Algarve on issues related to community safety and crime prevention.
A neighbourhood watch scheme has been successfully set up in the Loulé council with the support of the local GNR and David Thomas is keen that such programmes are implemented in other areas.
During his presentation, he showed how the community and the police authorities can work together in the fight against crime, suggesting that residents should look out for each other in their neighbourhoods as well as implement measures to protect themselves and their properties such as registering with the GNR’s Safe Residence Programme, developed specifically for residents living in isolated areas.
The latest consular outreach event is one of many the Consulate in Portimão is planning to organise in the Algarve.
For information about future events, please visit www.ukinportugal.fco.gov.uk.
* British Ambassador Jill Gallard also attended a BPCC dinner on Wednesday, October 19, evening, where she spoke of her work in boosting trade between the UK, Portugal and new emerging economies.
Since taking up her post as Ambassador in July, Jill Gallard has been involved in fulfilling some of the Foreign Commonwealth Office’s main objectives, which have a strong focus in economic issues.
Speaking to an audience of business people from all over Portugal, the Ambassador said she wishes to work towards attracting new emerging economies to help boost the UK’s trade, and thus its economy, and is looking to Portugal for help in developing this.
With an eye on Brazil and Angola, whose economies have shown “very positive” economic performances, the British Embassy in Lisbon, through its UK Trade & Investment Team, is working to partner with Portugal in helping to forge business links with those countries.
“Portugal alone is the 11th biggest market in the EU for the UK, representing €3 billion in bilateral trade per year,” said Jill Gallard.
“I look forward to further developing the deep relationship between the UK and Portugal, and as we all know, we are one of the oldest alliances in the world.”