Opposition highlights regional security issues at meeting.jpg

Opposition highlights regional security issues at meeting

By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]

Algarve civil governor Isilda Gomes and members of the region’s opposition social democratic party (PSD) met on December 23 to discuss the ongoing problems of security.

Members of the PSD party who attended the meeting included Algarve MP and regional president of the PSD party Mendes Bota, president of the association for hotels and tourist developments of the Algarve (AHETA) Elidérico Viegas, Albufeira mayor Desidério Silva and Seruca Emídio, mayor of Loulé council, which has been the focus of recent violent crimes.

During the meeting, the PSD members gave several suggestions to improve security, which included the placement of more CCTV systems across the region.

So far, only Praia da Rocha has been given permission to place CCTV cameras in public car parks because the installation in public areas is against Portugal’s data protection act (see the Algarve Resident edition August 1, 2008).

Other measures suggested included the implementation of a regional system of GPS tracking for suspect or wanted vehicles, more visible policing in rural areas, legislation that punishes the sale and purchase of stolen goods and a change in the laws for municipal police and night guards.

According to the regional PSD party, the entry requirements for municipal police are more demanding than those for the GNR or PSP police, while the legislation governing night guards in terms of self defence are debilitating.

Another suggestion made during the meeting was the implementation of a rapid alert telephone system, whereby residents could request emergency assistance from their local police force by simply pressing one button on their telephone.

Other themes discussed included violent crime, drug trafficking, domestic violence, problem areas in the region and the interaction between private security and municipal police forces, among others.

Following the meeting, Isilda Gomes said that the levels of violent crimes have decreased in the region and data will be published once it has been consolidated.

“We are not going to publish the data because what we have is up to November compared to the previous year,” she said, adding that the information will be made public at the right time.

“Crime has decreased in the PSP’s area as well as that of the GNR and I have the same information from the Polícia Judiciária,” she said, adding that there is a big difference between the feeling of insecurity and real insecurity in the field.

In a statement released after the meeting, the PSD party members criticised the fact that the opportunity to attend the meeting was not given to the commanders of the region’s security forces, as had been requested.

“This limited the information available, we do not know for example the exact number of police working in the Algarve, which is an essential factor to evaluate its sufficiency or insufficiency in relation to the needs of the population,” said the statement.

It added that the PSD party will work on its proposals and opinions, which are due to be presented to all political parties represented in parliament at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, Isilda Gomes announced that the Algarve received a reinforcement of around 200 extra GNR personnel during the Christmas period, of which around 100 are to stay and continue working in the most problematic areas of the region.

The Minister of Internal Affairs Rui Pereira also announced before Christmas that Faro’s GNR headquarters would be a priority for the placement of some of the 944 newly qualified GNR, as well as Setúbal and Lisbon.

The Algarve was placed in fourth position in the 2008 national crime report, after Lisbon, Porto and Setúbal, with 28,278 occurrences having been registered in the region during that year, representing a 6.6 per cent increase compared to 2007. The 2009 report has not yet been released.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]