AROUND 3,000 policemen from all ranks have already submitted their pension papers in order to take advantage of the benefits under the old regime, in force until the end of the year.
Since the Home Office Minister António Costa announced the change in the retirement and pensions policy for the police force, the Polícia de Segurança Pública’s (PSP) Direcção Nacional has received 2,600 requests for early retirement and retirement.
The new pensions regime will come into force from January and demands that officers fulfil 40 years of service in order to take retirement, or that they reach 60 years old. Under the current policy, policemen can apply for their pension after 28 years in service. The PSP’s unions are worried about the force’s rapid shed of officers, which currently employs a total of 21,800 police. According to figures held by union Sindicato dos Profissionais de Polícia (SPP), there is already a lack of 4,000 police officers, not counting those who have submitted their papers for retirement.
The brigades of Lisbon and Porto are the worst affected. In the capital, there are 1,900 less police than there should be, while in Porto there is a shortage of 500.
Police are being transferred to perform other jobs, for example in courts, airports and to join other departments that have recently been created, such as a division to prevent environmental crimes, and, as these officers are not being replaced, there is a lack of police on the streets. The last time that reinforcements were introduced was for Euro 2004.
The new police training course begins on November 14, but, according to unions, this will not provide enough officers to bridge the shortfall. The new recruits will only complete their training in June and, despite the fact that the college has a capacity for 1,200 candidates, there are currently 749 vacancies.
Sufficient men but
In the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), according to José Alho of the Associação Sócio-Profissional Independente da Guarda, an independent association for GNR officers, the problem is not the lack of personnel but the poor distribution of the workforce. According to the association, the GNR boasts 26,700 guards and, of this number, 15,000 are working as mechanics, chefs, barbers and cobblers, among other activities. There is a lack of guards for patrols and other work that needs to be performed on the streets. In the Brigada Territorial Nº3 alone, which covers the Alentejo and the Algarve, there is a shortfall of 32 officers and, as a result, some GNR stations are closing at 9pm.
The PSP and GNR unions are unanimous in their views concerning the changes needed, believing that structural alterations are paramount, including the merging of several of the country’s security forces, organised into different areas of expertise but with the same commander to control them. “If the PSP and GNR were merged, as was done in Luxembourg recently, there would not be a lack in police resources and the service would be more concerted,” said António Ramos of the SPP.
In The Resident’s edition of September 30, the article entitled ‘Police protest in Lisbon’ read that Alberto Torres and José Manageiro were the two faces of the Confederação do Comércio e Serviços de Portugal (CCP), when it should have read Comissão Coordenadora Permanente (CCP) dos Sindicatos e Associações dos Profissionais das Forças e Serviços de Segurança. The Resident apologises for any inconvenience caused by the mistake.