Safety in Portugal

Dear Editor,

We have lived in the Algarve for about a year now and we are really enjoying the country and its lovely people.

This place is perfect in many ways, but there is one very important aspect that alerts me hugely and it would be very sad if it would reverse my decision “Portugal forever” – the safety of my family.

Firstly, it is the traffic. I have seen more than five car accidents happen (in one year) and we were involved in one ourselves, provoked by reckless driving of a young Portuguese and another drunk Russian driver.

We have been called aside for police and GNR routine controls but they were only interested in the number plate and looking for possible tax fraud. The traffic situation in Portugal cannot be waved away, it is utterly dangerous and life threatening.

Secondly, let me please mention some violent acts that happened in our close circle of friends.

My neighbour and her daughter got attacked by a drugged person in Faro, who wanted to steal the 55 year-old’s handbag and shoved her into the road, leaving her bleeding all over her face.

A friend’s car got broken into on Faro Island. Then a German student friend got mugged with a knife in Faro, which then got topped by an Italian friend who got robbed at gunpoint by some young, supposedly Portuguese, men in Faro.

A visiting, very calm friend from Germany left a club in Faro to find himself being beaten up by five people, who kicked him to the floor.

With these occurrences just happening within three months, it is safe to say for me that it is absolutely unsafe to walk in Faro at night.

Portuguese friends from Faro confirmed that they do not go out much anymore at night. When I tell my stories, they just shrug their shoulders and add some more stories from their own experience, of their friends being mugged or beaten up for no reason.

In the other cases, no one went to the police to report. Also our Portuguese friends tell us that they do not report these occurrences to the police because they are sure that the police would not help. So for the group preparing the crime statistics I would like to give my estimation that about 80% of violence and crime will be unreported.

For me as an expat, there are clear signals sent out here: criminals, violent youngsters and reckless drivers, you still have a golden future in Portugal.

Victims, sorry, there is nothing we can do. Foreigners, you are very welcome in Portugal, please do not mind the threats to your health and safety.

In my opinion, the following should be done:

• prevent criminal acts, violence and drunk and reckless driving (I would not mind to be stopped weekly by the police to blow into the alcotest if it only gets the drunk drivers off the road),

• deal with these offences quickly, thoroughly and effectively,

• have absolute “zero tolerance” towards these offences.