David Thomas, President of Safe Communities Portugal
David Thomas, President of Safe Communities Portugal

Safe Communities Portugal participates in national Urban Security Conference

David Thomas, President of Safe Communities Portugal (SCP), gave a presentation at the ‘Urban Security – Municipalities and the Protection of Public Space’ Conference on October 18 at Convento São Francisco in Coimbra.

Organised by the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI), the two-day event was attended by around 300 people and comprised mainly police and government officials as well as universities and municipalities. The Minister of Internal Administration, José Luís Carneiro, and Secretary of State, Isabel Oneto, gave addresses at the close of the conference.

David Thomas had made a presentation at the first edition of the conference in 2019, which covered the work of SCP. The Coimbra Conferences are an important moment for sharing experiences and for debate between Portuguese municipalities, the security forces and services and the Internal Administration on issues related to urban security.

The first edition of this Conference emerged as an epilogue to the development of the Programme of the XXI Constitutional Government, which established the updating and definition of a New Generation of Local Security Contracts (CLS) as one of the priority areas in the context of Homeland Security.

The 2022 edition aimed to address the various dimensions of crime prevention in urban centres and their relationship with the strategies developed by local authorities.

On this occasion, the topic which David presented under the six thematic areas was ‘Delivering police services using advanced technology’, specifically ‘Use of apps in assisting in the delivery of police services’ and ‘Overseas experiences in the use of police body-worn cameras (BWCs)’.

These are both topical issues concerning policing generally, in particular body-worn cameras, which the government is planning to introduce for police in Portugal shortly. The last law to be introduced was at the end of 2021 covering the circumstances on when they can be used and issues such as privacy and the rights of both police officers and the public.

David’s presentation drew upon overseas experiences, particularly in UK, Australia and USA which have used them for many years. The presentation included observations regarding their use, for government to consider in the development, introduction and roll out.

In so far as the use of apps are concerned, David’s presentation covered the current app being used by MAI, how their use could help in streamlining the delivery of various services, giving examples of those being used in UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai.

He also covered the development of unmanned police stations being used in Dubai, which provide access to around 70 services online including crime reporting for certain crimes.

David Thomas was the only foreigner physically attending and the other overseas presentation by video was Elizabeth Johnston, Executive Director of the European Forum for Urban Security.

Following this, David spoke with both the Minister of Internal Administration and Secretary of State, concerning sharing of overseas experiences, the framework of the Urban Security conference and the CLS programme.