Almost every week now there are reports of crime, letters from those who suffer. What is your response?
At first it seemed to be, ‘nothing is wrong, the statistics show that’; ignoring the reports, concerns and fear. Fear which will drive people away and greatly affect our economic survival.
But now diplomatic cages will be rattled, questions will be asked in Lisbon and the European Commission as two consuls are raided (Swedish, German).
Certainly, the Mayor of Loulé was right to visit everyone concerned, whatever their nationality – they are câmara residents. Have you visited? Will you listen to the Swedish consul who is reported to have voiced her concern about police efficiency in the Algarve?
Will you talk to the Editor of this paper who is uniquely placed to assist; and has clear views on the problems and the effects of these constant negative reports?
To me there seem to be two basic problems which need to be addressed first. They are:
a) There are câmara presidentes/staff, GNR and others who think that there are only Portuguese in the Algarve and the tourists are also only Portuguese, or Spanish. That is manifestly not so. In the Algarve, we are different. We are many cultures and, for our future, we need to be bi-lingual.
b) We need to come to terms with the policing. Simply, the GNR is not able to do a civil policing job. What is going on and does it not require an honest review? More recruits, troops, a new post in Almancil are a waste. It is quality that counts not quantity. Throwing money at the problems without an honest evaluation first is pointless.
But it is not just street crime – our roads are unpoliced because the GNR have no idea. Useless, not interested, pass the buck.
Recently, I reported a crime at the Lagoa post; not interested, reluctance and the form filled in wrongly because he was too busy watching TV! And then he kindly charged me 10 euros for the pleasure.
The Christmas road figures were interesting. In the small print, over 20,000 tickets were issued, mainly for ‘paper’ offences, and that is what the GNR are really there for – fines for government coffers. Until they or a replacement can be trained to police our communities, our roads etc, rather than oppress with counting a van’s screws, we will make no progress in these matters, which strike at the heart of our being here – our pleasure, desire to stay, as residents, or tourists.
We need a debate, open, honest, involving all of us, for we are all Algarveans and it is our future, our Algarve.
D. TAYLOR-SMITH, ALGARVE