Police to warn tourists that Portugal

Police to warn tourists that Portugal "may not be safe"

Holidaymakers flying in to Portugal next month are in for a bizarre surprise.
A protest organised by the National Police Union SINAPOL will see groups of police officers handing out pamphlets in arrivals halls warning that the country’s security is at risk due to government-backed austerity measures that have affected salaries.
The pamphlets will be handed out in every airport throughout the mainland, as well as on the islands of Madeira and Azores, although no official dates or schedules have been announced.
“What we want is for foreigners to know the great difficulties Portuguese police are going through,” Luíz Paz, SINAPOL’s vice-president told Público newspaper.
“In fact, we want them to know that the way the government treats police officers here is very different from the way police officers are treated in their countries. It might jeopardise the quality of our services and homeland security.”
According to SINAPOL’s president Armando Ferreira, the protest is the perfect way to reinforce the police service’s growing discontent with national policymakers.
“The union’s struggles have died down a bit lately, and the Ministry of Internal Administration has not given us any more attention,” he said. “This decision seems appropriate to get us back to protesting.”
As Público highlights, the plan is certain to cause red faces in the government.
Overseas, Internal Administration minister Miguel Macedo is pushing the image of Portugal as being a “safe” country to visit.
Indeed, in July last year, he said it was a “strategic” move to deem Portugal “safe”.
“Portugal is one of the safest destinations in the world,” he said.
However, when contacted by Público to comment on the police plans, the ministry remained tight-lipped, refusing to say anything at all.
SINAPOL’s president stressed that the police wants to make it clear that “it is not the police who are jeopardising the country’s security.
“We just want citizens to know – and tourists as well – the way the government is treating us.”
Ferreira confirmed that similar high-profile demonstrations may be in the making.
“We are going to contact other unions to decide what to do. Everything is on the table: demonstrations, symbolic protests, even strikes,” he said.
Nonetheless, there is controversy surrounding the whole subject of police strikes.
Público reports that Lisbon’s Central Administrative Court is studying whether they are even legal.
This far, police protests have stopped short of strike action, although tensions have been escalating since off-duty officers stormed the parliamentary building in November last year in the first major demonstration against ongoing austerity, and the effects on pay and conditions.