GNR Police

Faro’s territorial commander warns Algarve mayors “police numbers well down on what you think”

GNR coordinator applauds Lt Col’s ‘bravery to say things as they actually are’

Hours after the Ministry of Internal Administration assured ‘everything was ready’ for the Algarve summer, Faro’s territorial commander has warned the region’s mayors to expect problems.

Numbers given do not reflect reality, said Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Almeida. The region has too few police agents to patrol as they should – just as hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected for a summer in which tourist numbers are predicted to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Faro’s territorial command should have 1433 agents, but at this moment it has 1,181”, he told a meeting of Loulé’s municipal assembly.

“This means 252 less than what we were expecting. These numbers however cannot be analysed on face value. We have agents transferred to other units (but still on this territorial post’s books; there are agents on unlimited leave, because their salaries are so small; there are agents on ‘moderated services’, which means we cannot count on them; there are agents with flexible hours (because they have just had babies); agents seconded to Civil Protection, meaning they are gone for the next three to four months – and we have long-term paid absences, and even some fraudulent absences: agents who won’t work in July, August or September”.

At the same time, the police chief referred to the fact that crime has continued to increase in the region.

In short, there are going to be problems – and the assurances by the Minister for Interior Administration that police “have all the adequate means” to ensure “the safety and tranquillity of everyone”, have to be taken with this context in mind.

António Barreira, the southern coordinator of the GNR association of professionals, has said the Lt. Colonel’s courage should be applauded. He gave a “realistic speech. The resolution of these problems lie with the government – and municipalities have the duty of making pressure to guarantee populations’ safety”, he said.

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“There are no issues that jeopardise safety,” GNR guarantees

After a GNR Lt Col warned that police numbers in the Algarve were “well down on what mayors had been told,” it did not take long for GNR police to release a statement guaranteeing that there are “no issues that jeopardise safety or patrolling in the Algarve.”

The police force said that there are police agents who are “unavailable” due to several reasons – from holidays to illnesses – but that these are “normal situations” which are not much different from prior years.

It also stressed that the Verão Seguro operation will see police numbers boosted during the summer, and that efforts are being made to attract new agents to the GNR.

Five training courses were carried out in 2021 with the goal of filling 1,400 vacancies – 1,044 of which were, while the remaining aspiring agents are still undergoing training.

An additional 1,600 vacancies will open this year, with two training courses having already started in April and June.

The GNR police command adds that it will remain “alert” in order to provide the resources (meaning agents), should they be necessary, to ensure the safety of “citizens and those who visit us.”

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