Police launch Christmas safety campaign

DRINK DRIVERS and motorists who break the speed limit are being targeted as part of a major police campaign entitled Natal em Segurança, Christmas in safety, which began earlier this week and continues until January 2.

Police reinforcements are being deployed across the Algarve in a bid to clamp down on dangerous driving, prevent crime and to proactively promote a greater feeling of security over the Christmas period.

A series of measures are being introduced, including an increase in the number of police on motorbikes and patrol cars deployed on the roads, as well as extra officers with police dogs keeping a watchful eye over busy shopping areas. Temporary police units are being set up in key tourist and shopping areas and at locations close to public transport terminals and popular night spots and there will be more officers directing the traffic in congested areas.  As from December 15, the end of the school term, those officers normally responsible for school safety will be put on street and traffic duty. The aim is to not only to reduce the number of road accidents, but also to reduce the level of crime typically associated with the Christmas period.

A similar campaign was run countrywide over the same period last year (December 1, 2005 to January 2, 2006) and the police were very satisfied with the results. In that period a total of 2,767 drivers across Portugal were charged with speeding offences, 243 were found driving without a valid licence, 294 were found driving a car without a valid inspection certificate (MOT) and 304 drivers and passengers were found not wearing their seatbelts.

With regards to drink driving, a total of 6,491 drivers were asked to pull over and take a breathalyzer test. A total of 898 people were found to be over the legal limit in terms of alcohol/ blood ratio, of which 342 cases were so serious, the individuals were taken into police custody.

The statistics in terms of road accidents over this year’s festival period showed that there had been an improvement on the previous year, although the figures are still somewhat alarming.

A total of 6,253 accidents took place on the roads between December 1, 2005 – January 2, 2006, 1,140 less than the previous year representing a 15 per cent decrease.

The biggest cause of accidents was found to be speeding and drivers drinking under the influence of alcohol and the police will be looking to build on their achievements of last year by clamping down on those committing such offences.

The Corpo de Intervenção, the intervention corps of the police forces in the districts of Faro, Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Setúbal, Aveiro, Leiria and Santarém will be boosted by reinforcements totaling 600 men this month. In addition, there will be 90 additional officers with police dogs and 300 officers reassigned from school safety programme until the children go back to school in the New Year.