Increase in violent crimes in Portugal: government promises new measures
Authorities called to Almada Forum on Saturday

Increase in violent crimes in Portugal: government promises new measures

Shooting in Almada Forum “created sensation of insecurity among population”

Secretary of State for internal administration Isabel Oneto has been forced to admit to the phenomenon of “greater severity of criminality” in Portugal following various violent incidents – two of which took place within the borough of Setúbal.

What is not being admitted (yet) is the fact that both the Setúbal incidents appear to have been instigated by members of the ‘gypsy community’.

It is a situation that has impelled right-wing party CHEGA into all kinds of announcements, not least that it is time that perceived protection of gypsies came to an end.

For now, the government is simply ‘promising new measures against violent crime’.

The executive is very much against a rock and a hard place. Portugal has always prided itself on being a ‘safe destination’. It is one of the cornerstones of the country’s touristic allure. But events speak for themselves. Indeed, the last Global Peace Index saw Portugal fall another place in the world ranking. PM António Costa vowed that this would soon be recovered – but today the landscape is not looking very favourable.

A commission is “analysing” the situation “a day after the shooting in Almada Forum”, writes Diário de Notícias, and “studying answers”.

The government accepts that the shooting particularly was something up till now “unseen in Portugal”: a gunman opening fire among people in a shopping centre, and accidentally hitting a child with one of his bullets.

It now seems the gunman was after a man and a woman. It will have been a ‘crime of passion’ – but the fact that it played out with zero regard for the safety of others is what has so unsettled people who never imagined they would be caught in a shooting as a result of a decision to go out on a Saturday night.

The government is keen to stress that ‘overall’ criminal ‘indicators’ continue to fall in comparison to 2019 (pre-pandemic). But that is fairly hollow PR when one considers that a 31-year-old barman was ‘stabbed in the heart’ in Setúbal in the early hours of Friday morning, simply for having tried to defend women from being sexually harassed (by a group of men ‘all within the same family’ – reports veer away from identifying them of men of the local gypsy community).

As Isabel Oneto has accepted: “We know there is an increase in violence, that people are more easily reacting with recourse to guns and knives”. Thus the work of the Commission of Integrated Analysis of Juvenile Delinquency and Violent Crime (CAIDJCV).

Says DN, the commission began working three months ago, and “should finish its work somewhere in the middle of 2023”.

Ms Oneto stresses that the government isn’t going to wait for the conclusions. She claims it means to “act as measures are suggested so they can be adopted immediately”.

I understand that people want answers, and this is what the commission is working on”, she continues. 

The commission brings together representatives of the ministries of Justice, education, labour, solidarity and social security, as well as internal administration, explains DN. It also includes members of the various police forces and ‘specialists in criminality’.

One of the main thrusts is analysis of juvenile delinquency – a growing phenomenon highlighted within the last RASI report on internal security. But there are other ‘prisms’, says Isabel Oneto, referring to ‘urbanisation that creates areas of greater susceptibility, scholastic contexts, nightlife and alcohol consumption. “Everything is being worked on”, she told the paper – the idea being that an ‘integrated strategy for urban security’ will be formulated, involving reinforced policing in articulation with municipal authorities.

Referring specifically to the shooting in Almada, the secretary of State highlighted the fact that response was ‘immediate’; the suspect was detained – and is now facing two charges of attempted murder. ‘It could have been worse’ was the unspoken message.

Ms Oneto also reinforced the fact that the other shocking crime of violence in the same district, only a little more than 30 hours earlier, had also seen authorities round up all suspected perpetrators.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com