By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]
Recent violent crimes in the Loulé area have led to local residents taking steps to help the GNR police in their fight against organised crime in the area.
A British resident, acting as a spokesman for the group of residents from the Vale Telheiro and Poço Geraldo areas, told the Algarve Resident: “Our aim is to map the area giving each property a number and a GPS coordinate. This information will then be provided to the GNR, the Bombeiros and the INEM.”
Once this mapping has been completed, which will enable a faster response from the police and emergency services, residents will develop a more organised neighbourhood watch scheme.
“This will be developed over time, at a later stage, where neighbours keep an eye on each other,” said the spokesman.
A similar scheme has already been set up in Alfeição, Loulé, and has been welcomed by the local police authority.
A GNR spokesman told the Algarve Resident: “I can confirm that residents in the Loulé council are now working to help the GNR by mapping their properties.”
The spokesman added that the number of police has been reinforced in the region, especially in the Loulé area.
Such initiatives have been started in response to growing fears among the foreign community in the region.
The Algarve Resident has received many emails and calls from readers who are worried about the current wave of organised crime across the region.
A Loulé resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Algarve Resident: “All these violent attacks on foreigners are scaring me and my wife very much. We have two children and don’t want them to witness any of these nightmares which could happen any day to us.
“We want to be able to sit outside on our own terraces and not be scared. Is that too much to ask for? We also very much feel that we have to sell up and leave the country as no protection for foreign residents is given at all,” he said.
A British resident from Luz in Lagos, who also asked not to be named, said: “There are so many robberies and burglaries at the moment. People should be aware of the dangers and give more thought to their own security.”
Residents and property owners of all nationalities who live in the Vale Telheiro/Poço Geraldo area and who would like to join the neighbourhood scheme are asked to email [email protected] for further information.
Type of crime
Michael Reeve, CEO of afpop, Portugal’s largest foreign residents’ association, told the Algarve Resident that the association has also been contacted by many of its members who have been victims of crime.
“Our members realise that we are not a policing agency, but they do contact us to get the issue of crime raised with the relevant authorities, which we do,” he said, adding that he believes that it is disingenuous for people to blame the police for not dealing with the issue, as they are being faced with a new type of organised crime that has not been seen in the region before.
“I have noticed an increase in walking patrols and people being stopped in the street by the police, so I think the government is acknowledging the problem.
“However, sending 100 extra GNR to the region is only a start. Much more needs to be done,” he said.
According to Michael Reeve, although the levels of crime in the region are reported to have fallen, it is the type of crime that has become worse.
In a statement sent by the GNR to the Algarve Resident, they said that a night time police operation was carried out by 43 GNR and 18 inspectors at 22 nocturnal establishments between 10pm and 4am on January 17.
This operation led to 160 foreign citizens being identified by the authorities, with 12 illegal immigrants having been found, one of whom was immediately escorted to Faro airport to be deported while the others were notified to leave the country.
In response to the wave of organised crime that is sweeping the region, Portugal’s minister of Internal Affairs Rui Pereira is due to attend a meeting with the civil governor, Isilda Gomes, representatives of the police, representatives from afpop and other officials in Tavira tomorrow (Saturday).
Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]