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PSP police figures show crime is down in Algarve

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

PSP police have criticised the media “for inciting fear” about crime levels in the Algarve, when in reality crime figures are down for the region, and have promised to ensure the safety of residents and tourists.

According to a post on the PSP Facebook page, the crime rate in the Algarve during the first half of 2011 fell by 11% compared to the same period last year.

“Much ink has been spent on making news in the press that suggest that the Algarve security forces are ‘dead’ and that crime is rising to frightening levels. That is a lie,” said a spokesman for the PSP.

“Since the beginning of the year, we have provided journalists with information about crime rates backed by data that contradicts everything that has been written about insecurity levels in the Algarve. Statistics help to interpret the facts.

“Headlines in the press that use words like ‘danger’, ‘insecurity’, ‘crime’ and ‘firearms’ lead readers to fear for their safety and their lives when choosing the Algarve as a holiday destination.”

The PSP have police stations in six Algarve municipalities – Faro, Olhão, Tavira, Vila Real de Santo António, Portimão and Lagos.

These councils represent more than 226,000 people, or 57% of the total Algarve population (according to the latest Census results).

“The PSP District Command in Faro, through surveillance operations, interacts daily with citizens to prevent crime, by proximity policing in support of the elderly, children, schools and traders,” added the spokesman.

“This has led to a sharp decline in crime rates in our area of responsibility in 2011, figures that have been systematically ignored by the press.”

Portimão, Faro, Tavira and Lagos also have night guards working closely with the PSP officers and have aided in arrest operations and in the recovery of stolen cars, among others.

A spokesman from the national Night Guards Association said: “There has been negative publicity for the region, when in fact the Algarve is known for providing a feeling of security to citizens.

“This is also a consequence of the efforts made by security forces to increase safety among residents and tourists.”

PSP police say that, so far this year, more than 500 people have been arrested in the region in relation to attacks on cash machines, robberies and home and shop break-ins.

“Residents and visitors can continue to count on the Portuguese police to ensure their safety,” said the PSP spokesman.

David Thomas, Director of ISECA, the Independent Security Agency, commented on the PSP Facebook’s message. He said: “I welcome these results, which illustrate the good work being done by the PSP and other agencies involved.

“The publication of such results is important in terms of crime prevention and public confidence. It also places individual crime incidents in the correct perspective and avoids the development of perceptions which do not reflect the facts.”

David added: “Certainly, I would like to see police proactively publishing more regular updates of crime statistics and trends as well as highlighting the good work done by them. Although police do provide the media with details of individual cases in the form of press releases, this can result in such cases being “sensationalised” or reported out of context, in the absence of the broader picture.

“Sound relations between the police and media are essential in ensuring accurate, balanced, and constructive reporting. One way to achieve this would be to have periodic police media briefings or press releases providing statistics and trends etc for the PSP, GNR and PJ (to ensure complete statistics), which is common in many countries.”

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