New police strategy in fight against crime

The Portuguese police and security forces are to launch a sophisticated new communications strategy next month in the fight against serious crime.

The plan, to be strictly monitored by an official body, and which was announced this week in Lisbon, will allow the various branches of the police – PSP, GNR, PJ, Polícia Marítima and the border control police (SEF) – to simultaneously share their data base information in order to carry out inquiries more efficiently.

The system, which is entitled in English “Agreement For Exchange Of Criminal Information” (PIIC) will mean, for example, thata PSP analyst sitting in his office can see and study exactly the same information as his PJ counterpart sitting in another office anywhere in the country.

Antero Luis, Secretary General of Sistema de Segurança Interna (SSI) told journalists that the police will not rely solely on the new method but will use a combination and integrate where appropriate.

He said that the success of the agreement will depend on the information systems of the Agency of Criminal Police (Orgãos de Polícia Criminal – OPC) and the better the functions of the OPC the better will be the results.

Antero Luis emphasised that the first phase of the agreement applies only to criminal investigations but the ultimate objective is to transform it into a second phase where it could be used as a tool for crime prevention.

As the agreement may embrace information contrary to citizens’ rights or considered to be sub judice and therefore not permissible in a court of law, the OPC could access this data only with judicial authority.

Initially, 300 analysts will be involved with PIIC inquiries but there is scope for 3,000 to simultaneously combine information in their inquiries.

The strict control of the dissemination of criminal information will be guaranteed by an official council composed of representatives ofthe OPC, the office of the Secretary General of SSI and by theComissão Nacional de Protecção Dados (CNPD).

Rui Moura, of the CNPD, said he is confident the new agreement, which was first suggested several years ago, will help to cut down on man hours and facilitate criminal inquiries more efficiently.