Safety at risk as 1,250 PSP police cars “don’t work”

Portugal’s urban police force, the PSP, has 26% of its patrol fleet out of action. This translates into 1,250 vehicles either waiting to be repaired or too old or decrepit to circulate, writes Correio da Manhã.

With an average age of 13 years, and average mileage on the clock of 175,000 kms, the country’s fleet is compromised, says the paper.

Added to this, 2016’s fuel budget has been slashed by half (click here).

“It all has an effect on daily patrols,” the PSP’s syndicate president Paulo Rodrigues has agreed.

Only two weeks ago, an armed gang managed to escape undetected after killing a driver on the A26 near Lisbon. Not one police car was scrambled in time to give chase (click here) and there still appears to be no sign of any arrests.

The worst situations are in Lisbon, Satúbal and Porto, writes CM.

There, so many police cars are out of service that replacements have to be drafted in from other areas.

The GNR (out-of-town) force is also up against it, says the paper. Most of their vehicles are 18 years old, with patrol cars running with up to 700,000 kms on the clock.

“We’re doing a round-up on what we have available throughout the country, and realise that there are a lot of vehicles out-of-commission,” union president César Nogueira told CM.

A lot of problems are minor, he explained – issues with “indicators, brakes, exhausts, etc” – but the worry is that this year’s GNR budget has no money to fix them.

Good news, however, is that the government has promised money to buy 150 new cars this year, says CM – and other ways round the problem include leasing arrangements which see cars substituted the minute they need to go in for repair.

But even so, patrols are affected, Delmiro Farinha of ASAPOL (the PSP’s autonomous syndicate) stresses.

They are going more slowly “due to the state of vehicles” and “in many areas” foot patrols are being what he called “privileged”, with agents “walking many kilometres in each patrol”.

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