Santarém Câmara President, Rui Barreiro, has alerted the Minister for Home Affairs, Daniel Sanches, of the need to increase security measures in the borough and create conditions for better policing.
Barreiro claimed that he has received complaints regarding the lack of security in the city itself and within other parishes in the borough. However, the PSP’s district commander, who is in charge of security for Santarém, says that, from his point of view, “no one is ever satisfied with the police force that we have” and “everyone always expects more”. He underlined the fact that there has been no decrease in the number of officers posted in Santarém and that there hasn’t been any indication of increased crime registered in the area.
Fátima comes first
Rui Barreiro feels that “the PSP of Santarém clearly has little effect. This is mainly due to the fact that, when there is an activity taking place in Fátima, the police are responsible for the security of the sanctuary and they then relocate officers from various forces within the region – this is well known.” According to the Câmara President, the lack of policing is not only related to the city (where nearly 65,000 residents live), but within other areas of the GNR’s responsibility.
Barreiro says that he received various complaints from residents attending central meetings between the 28 parishes, set up in order to discuss priorities for the next council budget. “Our citizens are demanding that there is an increase in police patrols to deal with the lack of security, and this view is unanimous,” he said.
Superintendent Vaz Antunes, the PSP district commander, has admitted that during periods when there are pilgrimages to Fátima, security is reinforced at the sanctuary, with officers brought from other stations in the region. But he emphasised that the same approach is taken when a major event occurs in Santarém. “It is a perfectly normal situation, and there have been no changes that I am aware of, nor do I know about any particular lack of security in Santarém.
“Fátima is undoubtedly a Mecca for visitors all year round and a comparison cannot be made between one of the world’s most renowned religious attractions, and activities and events that may take place from time to time in Santarém.”
Antunes guaranteed that the number of officers working in Santarém has not been reduced and said that, when it is necessary, reinforcements are transferred by the Direcção Nacional or from the Lisbon unit.
Pernes police station
Daniel Sanches responded to Barreiro by saying that a plan to build a new GNR station in Pernes “is not considered to be a priority for the GNR”. But the Câmara President does notagree, commenting that the situation “is unacceptable”. He has promised to campaign among the parliamentary groups for the building to be completed.
The GNR in Pernes has been working from a rented building for almost a year, following inspections to the old station which concluded that, due to the condition of the building, officers and citizens were being put at risk. Rui Barreiro underlined that the suitable solution could not be put on hold forever and pointed out that funding for a new station was approved back in 1992, but was never allocated.