Police stations under scrutiny

The Inspector General of Internal Administration (Inspecção Geral da Administração Interna – IGAI) has criticized the conditions of several GNR and PSP police stations in its annual report, describing some with “very unhealthy and undignified conditions in which to perform police duties”.

While its conclusions are generally positive, the report does however identify a number of stations that are either in a poor state of repair or simply not suitable for the functions of police work, and in particular the lack of facilities for women police officers.

The IGAI has therefore proposed that the GNR general command and the PSP national directorate improve the “conditions of comfort in areas of public service as well as the general conditions of police premises”.

It also urges solutions be found regarding the problems facing those premises in such a “state of degradation that they are not compatible with the functions of police officers”.

Regarding the use of information technology, the assessment referred to the fact that the GNR is being equipped with the Integrated System of Police Operational Information (SIIOP) system, but that its national coverage is far from complete.

Expanding this point, the document added that “it would be desirable for both security forces to have a compatible information system [to provide] a swifter and more permanent systematic platform of cooperation between the different levels of national operations”.

The IGAI visited a total of 52 police units and also highlighted the shortage of particular equipment such as devices for measuring blood alcohol levels and the lack of portable ATM units for the automatic payment of fines. The report noted that the lack of these “affect the efficiency performance levels of police personnel”.

There is also a shortage of police vehicles meaning that the existing fleet is overused.

IGAI, headed by magistrate Margarida Blasco, noted that, for the most part, all police cells inspected had minor deficiencies and that some “cannot be transformed” due to the cells’ configuration and the interior design of the police headquarters.

The absence of exterior security taps in order to cut the water supply to cells [in case of emergencies] and the lack of door visors which permit visual monitoring of the cell interior were some of the other irregularities noted.

In the report’s summing up, the IGAI, which operates under the supervision of the Ministry for Internal Administration, also considered “imperative” that case identification of suspects issued by the police authorities be sent to the prosecutor (Ministério Público): there have been previous occasions when this has not happened.

In addition, the IGAI urged all police departments to impress “higher accuracy and clarity in the terms used as legal foundation when identification [of suspects] is made”.

According to the IGAI, the purpose behind these unannounced inspections of police stations is to verify the legality of police actions with “special emphasis on [identifying] actions that intervene, directly or indirectly, with the civil rights, guaranties and liberties of citizens.”

In 2012 16 PSP and 36 GNR squadrons were inspected.