“In this very special context, we have registered the lowest crime rates since the Annual Internal Security Report (RASI) began, since the reporting of data is done in this systematic way”, said Eduardo Cabrita, the Minister of Internal Administration, without specifying when this data was released.
Lusa news agency confirmed to the Ministry of Internal Affairs that the first RASI is from 1989.
The minister said that general crime fell by around 11 percent last year compared to 2019 and that violent and serious crime fell by more than 13 percent.
The official stressed that this decrease in crime and its relationship with 2020, in which Portugal went through several states of emergency and situations of alert, calamity and contingency, to deal with Covid-19, will still be analysed, regarding crimes that went up during a year in pandemic.
The minister maintained that, in other European countries, the situation due to the pandemic determined the increase of some forms of crime and the existence of a situation of serious disturbance of internal security or public order.
The minister pointed out that this report consolidates the “trend of the last decade” of a “permanent decline of registered crime”, being a sustained evolution and “not just one year”.
“In Portugal, this did not just happen. We have a record marked by the generalised decrease of various types of crime, even in those that are the most registered in the country”, he said, stressing that it is the case of domestic violence, which had a decrease of about 6 percent in 2020.
The minister also stressed that there was “a correlation between periods of state of emergency” due to the pandemic and “the greatest decrease in criminal occurrences”.
According to Eduardo Cabrita, in the first period of the state of emergency, between March and early May, there was a 28.9 percent decline in general crime and 27 percent fall in violent and serious crimes.
In the second period of the state of emergency, from November to the end of 2020, there was a reduction of 15 percent in general crime and about 20 percent in violent and serious crime.
The official underlined that some of the crimes that have increased “are somehow associated with these very special times” of the pandemic, such as those associated with the use of digital media in which the computer scam had “a very significant increase”, and that of disobedience, which is also linked to the state of emergency.
Also present at the press conference, the Minister of Justice, Francisca Van Dunem, stated that RASI allows us to conclude that there was no wave of street crimes associated with the release of prisoners due to Covid-19 and that “recidivism rates were normal”.
Francisca Van Dunem considered that Portugal should continue to worry about street crimes, but this report says that we must start “worrying about information highways”, the digital transition being a part of “our life and criminal activity”, according to the minister.
The minister explained that the increase in crimes of computer fraud is related to the pandemic, since people are in confined spaces and often need “hope”.
“Sometimes miracles appear in the virtual space, promising extraordinary cures and people are more fragile,” she said.
The two ministers also praised the role of security forces and services during the year 2020.