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Proactive response to crime against tourists

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

Algarve Civil Governor Isilda Gomes has led public and private entities in responding to recent attacks on tourists in the Algarve by reinforcing the security forces of the region.

This proactive action to protect tourists was highlighted with a recent case of attacks in Vilamoura.

British tourist Barrie Morris from Bristol was on a short golfing holiday in Vilamoura with friends between January 19 and January 24 and while he was staying in the resort, members of the group were attacked twice and robbed.

Barrie Morris told the Algarve Resident: “The first incident occurred on the Thursday evening when a member of our group was returning alone to our hotel at around 12.30am. He was set upon by at least three assailants within 25 yards of the hotel and robbed of the only thing he was carrying – a pack of cards.”

The man received cuts and bruises and was reported this to the police but as the assailants could not be identified, the victim decided not to take the case any further.

A second attack on members of the golfing group took place on Sunday, January 23 with two of the group being assaulted outside the hotel by a gang of four or five men who beat the pair and stole their wallets, cash and credit cards.

Barrie Morris said: “This time it was decided to go to the police station to make a complaint. The police were unhelpful and adamant that this was an isolated incident and that there was no problem with muggings or assaults in Vilamoura.”

As a visitor to the Algarve for many years, Barrie said that he had always previously considered Vilamoura to be a “safe place” but the fact that both the incidents occurred very close to the hotel and the “aggressive and unhelpful” attitude of the police he considers to be “unacceptable”.

“An inappropriate response by the authorities will undoubtedly result in publicity of an extremely damaging nature to the tourist industry in the Algarve. I have always held the Portuguese people in the highest regard as the most friendly and welcoming of hosts and I am sure that they will share my concern at this turn of events,” said Barrie Morris.

Following the attacks, both the travel company involved in the trip and the Civil Governor, the person ultimately responsible for the security forces in the Algarve, have responded to the criticisms of Barrie Morris and provided a proactive response to concerns.

Barrie Morris and his group had booked his holiday through Oceânico Travel, an Oceânico Group company.

Rita Brissos from Oceânico told the Algarve Resident: “Mr Morris booked his trip through us to stay in Vilamoura and it is very unfortunate that he and the members of his group had a bad experience.

“I immediately contacted my colleagues at the hotel and the Civil Governor in Faro to find out if they were aware of the situation and what measures were being taken. We were told that the Civil Governor is already aware of the cases and a couple more which unfortunately happened over the last two weeks.

“The case has been passed on to the PJ and the patrolling of Vilamoura, and particularly the marina area, has been reinforced with instructions from the Civil Governor being very clear that security forces have to stamp this sort of behaviour out.”

She added: “While tourism is our main business in the Algarve, we pride ourselves so much for delivering great services and infrastructure to all our visitors, along with the sunshine and our coastline and are working with industry partners to ensure this doesn’t happen again”

Civil Governor Isilda Gomes told the Algarve Resident: “The government has been systematically strengthening the numbers of GNR as well as their technical capabilities since 2009 when it was decided to increase the number of vehicles and provide a further 100 members of the security forces in the Algarve. This has led to a strengthening of the GNR across the region but particularly in the municipality of Loulé.”

She added: “Safety is a priority issue in the Algarve and the security forces are constantly assessing the problems of individual communities to ensure that they provide an effective response against crime in the area, regardless of how visible they may be to the public.

“This ongoing concern of the security forces together with the strengthening of the resources that has already been undertaken by the government is reflected in the reduction in the overall crime levels recorded in the Algarve.”

The case of the attacks has now been passed on to the PJ for further investigation.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]