English course for GNR officers is “show-off” move, says officers’ association

English course for GNR officers is “show-off” move, says officers’ association

News that GNR officers in the Algarve are now able to enrol in free English and German classes and brush up on their foreign-language skills has been slammed by the president of the association representing GNR officers, who says the main beneficiaries will be those working behind a desk.

César Nogueira of the Associação dos Profissionais da Guarda (APG/GNR) told the Algarve Resident that the initiative by Faro GNR Command – in partnership with the Institute for Employment and Professional Training (IEFP) – is nothing but a “show-off” move, aimed at making the GNR as a whole “look good”.

In his opinion, officers who are patrolling the streets and assisting the community will be “unlikely” to qualify for participation on the 50-hour course, due to “serious deficits in the workforce”.

He said: “It is a known fact that the GNR is suffering a serious officer shortage. Rearranging work shifts to allow patrol officers to attend the classes is very difficult.”

Classes take place “after work hours” and are open to “all GNR officers”, a spokesman for Faro’s GNR Command told the Algarve Resident.

When asked about officers who work shifts, the spokesman reiterated that “all officers” can enrol in the foreign-language courses and that “dozens of officers are already attending”.

According to Faro’s GNR Command, a total of 100 officers are expected to benefit from the initiative – but César Nogueira doubts these will be officers on street patrol duty. He believes officers occupying administrative positions, with a set work schedule – in other words ‘nine to five’ staff members – will very probably be the only ones in class.

“Yet it is the officers in the streets that have the most contact with citizens,” he pointed out.

It was only last week that Faro’s GNR Command announced a partnership with the IEFP to provide officers across the Algarve with the opportunity to learn English. Classes are now taking place in Portimão, Albufeira and Tavira GNR stations.

From 2014, a German class will also be available in Tavira for “around 30 officers”.

“Being able to communicate in English, as well as in German, is fundamental in a tourist destination visited by citizens of all nationalities,” said Command’s press statement.