Record crime figures

According to a recent study conducted by the Portuguese government, the national crime rate has risen by a total of 52 per cent compared to last year, and the Algarve has the fastest growing crime rate in the country.

The study, which analysed crimes reported between January 1 and June 30 of this year, revealed that in the first four months of 2004 alone, a total of 96,840 crimes were reported to the GNR throughout Portugal – a rise of 3,268 cases compared to 2003.

Breakdown of figures

According to a source from the GNR, of the 96,840 reported crimes in Portugal, almost 52,000 robberies and extortion rackets were reported, and just over 23,000 crimes related to human abuse (including murders, maltreatment, physical attacks and sexual child abuse). The GNR also investigated around 11,500 ‘crimes against society’ (arson, polluting the atmosphere, terrorism and reckless driving) and 1,629 ‘crimes against the state’ (civil disobedience and corruption) and two crimes against humanity (torture and social discrimination).

Are immigrants to blame?

The study also revealed that the crime rate in the Algarve has risen by an alarming 15.9 per cent since last year. The report revealed that a total of 11,360 crimes were reported in the first quarter, compared to 8,558 crimes last year, making the Algarve the region with the fastest rising crime rate in Portugal.

Faro Civil Governor, José Rosado, has blamed the increase in the Algarve crime rate on the large number of illegal immigrants in the region and the rise in drug smuggling along the coastline. “After the Greater Lisbon area, the Algarve is the region with most foreign immigrants. Some of whom are forced to commit crimes to survive because of unemployment and social exclusion,” he explained. However his argument was somewhat devalued by the fact that in 2004, 14,765 new criminal cases were reported in Lisbon – a rise of only 589.

In fact, Viana do Castelo has the second fastest crime rate (7.5 per cent), followed by Leria (5.9 per cent). Viseu, Évora, Coimbra and Portalegre were the only districts where the crime rate has fallen by between 5.4 and 11.1 per cent. The sparsely populated Alentejo region registered the lowest number of crimes in the country, with 1,225 cases, followed by Bragança with 1,259 reported crimes.