With general crime falling and new measures constantly being drawn up to bolster the sense of security in Portugal’s southernmost region, there were many reasons, announced at last week’s seminar, for the Algarve to continue being seen in a positive light.

Organised by the crime prevention and awareness association Safe Communities Portugal, in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI), the Algarve Regional Tourism Board (RTA) and Portimão Council, the event provided an occasion for joint reflection on the policies, measures, and actions that continue to allow the region to be seen as one of the safest tourist destinations in the world.

As well as highlighting good practices in the field of Municipal Civil Protection, the seminar also gave an introduction to Portimão’s ‘(Re)Living in My Neighbourhood’ project, both of which are among a number of important measures included within the framework of the Local Security Contract programme. Portimão is one of 27 municipalities throughout Portugal that have signed Local Security Contracts.

Speaking at the seminar, Portimão Mayor Isilda Gomes said the initiative “demonstrated, through the interventions of all participating parties, that the Algarve continues to be one of the safest destinations in the world”.

During her speech, Mayor Gomes confirmed that Praia da Rocha, one of Portimão’s – and indeed the Algarve’s – most popular tourist resorts, will soon be equipped with CCTV cameras to tighten safety in the area.

She also revealed that the coverage provided by automated external defibrillators (AED) in Portimão is to be widened throughout the municipality.

According to Mayor Gomes, the council is currently in the final stages of planning details for the CCTV installation, which will reportedly cost in the region of €500,000.

She explained that the surveillance equipment will be installed in Praia da Rocha and along the main access routes into the city, and should be up and running by the end of this year.

While crime in the Algarve continues on a downward trend, having effectively surpassed the rest of the country over the last 10 years, all relevant security parties voiced their commitment to continuing to work as a network to guarantee the safety and protection of the resident population and tourists.

Attended by around 120 people, other key speakers at the seminar included Angelo Marques, representing the Ministry of Internal Administration; João Fernandes, President of the Algarve Regional Tourism Board (RTA) and David Thomas, President of Safe Communities Portugal.

Other speakers who gave informative presentations included Superintendent Marco Martins, Commander of the Faro District PSP police, Commandant Joaquim Crasto, head of the Faro District GNR police, and Commandant Richard Marques, head of Portimão’s Municipal Civil Protection service.

Particularly poignant was an intervention by Carmen Rasquete, secretary general of the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV), who said the association last year registered around 950 cases of direct victims of crime and violence in the Algarve, out of a total of 4,600 cases.

According to Ms. Rasquete, last year the association’s services attended “on average, per week in the Algarve region, one hundred cases involving adults, 18 cases involving children, and an equal number of cases involving elderly people”, which represents an increase in cases being reported by victims.

APAV also provides a specific service that aims to help tourists who are the victims of crime.

As Carmen Rasquete stressed, “the vulnerabilities to which tourists are subject in the Algarve region and the levels of support (available to them) are also concerns that we have and which we are working towards in articulation with the security forces”.
She said that the most frequent crime victims in the Algarve are related to “crimes of theft, robbery, physical offense and sexual violence”.

As part of the ongoing endeavours to protect visitors to Portugal’s main tourist destination, the PSP put on an awareness-raising activity earlier this week at Faro airport, when its mascot Falco the Eagle spent a morning welcoming tourists.

Falco greeted over 5,000 passengers arriving at Faro airport on Tuesday morning, joined by members of the Algarve Regional Tourism Board and Safe Communities Portugal, as part of the latter’s ‘Safe Tourism’ programme.

Over 1,000 crime prevention leaflets were handed out to arriving passengers.

According to Safe Communities Portugal, the reaction from surprised tourists was that it was one of the warmest welcomes they had experienced on arrival in another country.