Image: Miguel A. Lopes/ Lusa

Portugal “continues to be one of safest countries in world”

PM puts latest homeland security report into context

Portugal continues to be one of the safest countries in the world, PM António Costa has stressed following the release of the country’s homeland security (RASI) report for 2021 which (on paper) highlights an increase in gang crime, juvenile deliquency, rape and the theft of catalytic converters.

The increases have a lot to do with figures for 2020 being ‘low’ due to the country being in various forms of lockdown.

And as the PM has tweeted, levels for all crimes are “historically low” anyway, “including violent and serious crime, which is around 10% lower than the average for the years 2016-2019”.

This is “extremely important for those who live here and those who visit, but also it is essential for the environment of attraction of investment, promoting growth and progress in our country”, said Mr Costa – registering his thanks, in a subsequent tweet, to “all the security forces and services who, with their dedication and spirit of mission, 24-hours a day, every day of the year, contribute towards this objective”.

Elsewhere, Portugal remains high on the Global Peace Index, coming in in 4th place this year behind Iceland, New Zealand and Denmark.

Conclusions of the RASI report

There is no getting away from the figures, however: secretary-general of internal security (SSI), Paulo Vizeu Pinheiro, gave a press conference yesterday, highlighting some of the “most relevant” indicators of the report that will now be going to parliament.

Last year there was a “high growth in the crime of theft, particularly in the theft of catalytic converters (devices fitted to vehicle exhaust systems to filter harmful emissions), with more than 6,000 occurrences, which contributed a lot to the rise of reported crime in 0.9%”.

Paulo Vizeu Pinheiro added that road crimes as a whole registered an increase of 12%, with 3,666 more cases, particularly those involving driving under the influence of alcohol (+12.4%) and driving without a valid licence (+12.5%).

Gang criminality increased by 7.7% last year;  juvenile delinquency by 7.3%, which Pinheiro agreed is “cause for concern” and “will continue to deserve redoubled attention”.

In relation to crime reported to the security forces and services, there was an increase in computer and communications fraud (up 7.7%), with 1,519 more cases, and an increase in crimes “by digital means”.

Decreases were recorded in counterfeiting, forgery and money laundering, with a decrease of 37.2% in 2021 (meaning 2,192 fewer cases than flagged in 2020), theft from commercial and industrial buildings by burglary (-18.3%), theft from motor vehicles, which fell by 14%, as well as incidents involving ATMs (14 fewer cases).

Paulo Vizeu Pinheiro agreed that the “slight rise” in general crime in 2021 “may somehow relate to the easing of confinement measures compared to the previous year”.

He stressed domestic violence “continues to be a cause for concern – despite registering a decrease of 4%, although it still has very high reporting figures”, with 26,520 reports in 2021.

In the scope of economic and financial crime, there were more than 60,325 cases initiated in 2021, an increase of 7.4% compared to 2020.

And for violent and serious crime, rape increased 26% (82 more cases than in 2020), extortion by 19.5% (129 more cases) and car theft, by 14.2%.

The biggest falls occurred in robbery from fuel stations (-26.3%), residential burglary (-22.5%), robbery by extortion (-20.9%), theft on public thoroughfares (-8.3%) and voluntary manslaughter (-8.6%).

Violent and serious crime represented 4% of all crime reported and investigated.

Source material: Lusa