Re: English courses for GNR officers

Dear Editor,
I was disappointed to read in last week’s Algarve Resident the views of César Nogueira, a spokesman from the Associação dos Profissionais da Guarda (APG/GNR) who is reported as saying that the recently-introduced English courses for GNR officers is “nothing but a show-off, that only nine-to-five admin staff will benefit and those patrolling the streets will unlikely qualify to attend”.

These rather negative comments do little justice to his colleagues who have supported the scheme and are attending voluntarily as part of “unpaid overtime” to further their language skills. In addition, the APG/GNR spokesman appears incorrect in his assumption regarding who will attend these classes.

This is best illustrated by the fact that in the photo accompanying the article showing officers undergoing training at Albufeira GNR Headquarters, 67% are patrol officers, 20% are reception staff who have direct dealings with the English-speaking community reporting crimes etc., and only two are indoor admin staff. It is believed this breakdown is roughly reflected elsewhere.

Associação Safe Communities Algarve has previously discussed with the GNR the importance of foreign language skills for their officers in dealing with non-Portuguese speaking residents and tourists.

In my view the GNR should therefore be applauded for developing this initiative in association with the Institute for Employment and Professional Training. The scheme is mainly aimed at those officers who have direct contact with the public and as far as I can see this is being implemented as intended.

David Thomas
President, Associação Safe
Communities Algarve