Following your reply to Mr and Mrs Bodkin (Algarve Resident edition, December 11), I would like to comment on certain points.
I have every sympathy for them and others who are attacked, robbed etc and you are right to say crimes happen everywhere but missed the point that it is not just crimes reported but fear of what might happen.
Repeated surveys in the UK show fear to be far greater than actual robberies. It has been suggested, in your online poll, that we need a tourist police. This would only add to the myriad of security bodies we have and would not work.
Indeed, the GNR already have a tourist unit and it is not fit for purpose. As you quite rightly say, the GNR is military and needs reform. In fact, we need one, responsible, able, transparent civil police, that can police.
Some GNR/PSP officers try, but they are poorly educated (on government evidence), poorly trained and managed, and mostly, not interested. Why should they be in a system that is not a police force?
It is not just in crime we need action, but also in the appalling driving on our roads. The civil governor is alleged to say everything is ok and, in the next breath, every câmara now has a contract with private security firms! Why?
I once asked a security person in Albufeira why they were there (their role?). I was told that the GNR are not interested and the municipal police do not get out of their cars.
The extra problem that the Bodkins and others have is that no one is listening; government, local politicians, GNR, at least not to expats or tourists, even though they are the biggest generators of the Algarve economy. We may disappear; tourists may read newspapers in the UK etc and decide to go elsewhere.
Fear may reign but no one will take notice.
BUT perhaps they will listen to a Portuguese person who, as an addition, has the word editor in their title and has a large number of contacts especially in the tourist, commercial industries.
Briefly, if the Fábrica do Inglês in Silves closes, it is mostly due to very poor management. Management that has no idea of its markets, research or will. There may be conflict of interest if Silves Câmara assists, but ANY help must be based on a totally new, capable management and any money only released on agreed targets being met.
D Taylor-Smith, by email
Editor’s note: Dear D Taylor-Smith, thank you for the very interesting and valid points you make. Obviously, I can’t speak for the security forces in Portugal, but their lack of interest may be due to the very poor wages they earn and the complete disregard for their safety and wellbeing at government level. However, please note that these internal injustices are no excuse for complacency when it comes to protecting the community! No doubt we are in agreement that a complete reform of this force is needed. The type of police action we are looking for will only happen when the government wakes up to the fact that a more humane management of the police forces is the way forward. The same applies to companies: people need to be managed, not by power-driven bosses but by people who are determined to achieve self less goals.