SOME GNR stations in the Algarve will be closed or transferred to the PSP in a major nationwide shake-up of policing in Portugal announced by the General Commander of the GNR.
In total, 108 smaller stations of the GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana) may be closed and another 27 transferred to the PSP (Polícia de Segurança Pública), according to a document revealed last week.
The proposal, which is now being analysed by the Ministry of Internal Administration, which controls the police forces, aims to reorganise the country’s security, with the civil police controlling small towns with more than 15,000 inhabitants.
In the Algarve, the proposal suggests that the Carvoeiro GNR station should be closed before the end of the year and the branches in Olhão, Vila Real de Santo António and Vilamoura should be transferred to the PSP command.
The document also proposes the closure of the existing four territorial brigades that are strategically placed in the country and replacing them with more widely dispersed medium sized commands.
The third brigade, which commands the Algarve and the Alentejo regions, should be replaced by four new territorial commands located in Portalegre, Évora, Beja and Faro.
The reorganisation of the GNR branches is part of a bigger overall reorganisation that results from the new Lei Orgânica, Organisational Law for this police force, expected to be published in the Diário da República, the state laws official journal, tomorrow (Saturday).
The reform of the national security system was started in 2005 by the then Minister of Internal Administration, António Costa, who is now President of Lisbon Câmara. His plan was to concentrate the work of the GNR in areas like traffic control, territorial security and border surveillance.
At the same time, the plan was to increase the responsibility of the PSP, a less military police force, to ensure security in the growing number of urban areas in the country.
The GNR is a police force with military training which focuses on the rural areas of the country, traffic patrolling, rescue operations and border control. PSP agents are trained for securing urban areas.
The proposal prepared by the GNR commander, Mourato Nunes, for the Minister of Internal Administration, Rui Pereira, defends the maintenance of 397 branches under the 16 main GNR controlling offices placed in the country.
Although the reforms aim to better equip the country with a more organised police structure, the main problem for the GNR remains the number of agents.
According to the statistical information, there are presently 26,000 GNR agents, but only half of them work on the streets.
The force also has a recruitment and replacement problem, with fewer officers joining the force than leaving each year. Adding to the situation is the fact that recruitment is expected to be frozen from 2008 to 2011.
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