"Domestic violence against a spouse or similar has increased significantly by 10.6 percent (22,423 cases in 2018 and 24,793 in 2019). Combined with the number of homicides of women in 2019, the need to reinforce the responses to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, in all its dimensions", said Francisca Van Dunem.

The minister presented to the plenary of the Assembly of the Republic the Government's proposed law on criminal policy for the 2020-2022 biennium, which defines objectives, priorities and guidelines for the prevention of crime, as well as lines of criminal investigation, criminal action and execution of penalties, taking into account the 2019 Annual Internal Security Report (RASI).

According to the proposal, the most vulnerable will be given priority, either because of their specific condition (children and the elderly), or in relation to the crimes they have been victims of, namely domestic or family violence and crimes against sexual freedom and self-determination.

On another level, which includes, for example, economic-financial crime and drug trafficking, special attention is given to the recovery of assets, "as a policy aimed at restoring to the community the goods, values ??and assets that were obtained by offenders", reinforcing the premise that crime does not pay.

"The mission of the Asset Recovery Office and the Asset Management Office is promoted, giving priority to the identification, location and seizure of goods or products related to crimes, internally and internationally, and the adoption of management measures in order to ensure the quick allocation to public utilities of assets seized in criminal proceedings, avoiding their deterioration and loss of value, or allowing their respective sale," said the minister.

Francisca Van Dunem also spoke about the need for a closer monitoring of the needs of criminal investigation in matters of economic and financial crime, as well as for an evaluation of the implementation of criminal policy laws regarding the measures adopted in the framework of the prevention and repression of economic crimes, including corruption.

The criminal policy law also provides for an additional investment in reintegration and prevention of recidivism, based on programmes for young adults, convicted of crimes of domestic violence, against sexual freedom and self-determination, perpetrators of rural fires and perpetrators of road crimes.

The minister stressed, on the other hand, that the specific circumstances of the current pandemic moment "the uncertainty as to its continuity" justify options such as "the priority accorded to the investigation of crimes against public authority committed in the context of a health emergency, or protection and, crime committed in the health environment".

In general terms, Francisca Van Dunem indicated that Portugal continues to record low crime rates, noting that "occasional increases compared to the previous year require caution and prudence in the conclusions" to be drawn.

"In terms of criminal statistics, we continue to deal with low numbers and insignificant statistical realities, where any fluctuation in actual numbers generates marked percentage variations, which can influence misperceptions and readings," she said.

In 2019 - she recalled - another 2,391 participations were registered in terms of general crime and another 417 participations related to violent and serious crime, which corresponds respectively to an increase of 0.7 percent and 3 percent compared to the previous year.

The type of crime that registered the most significant increase was that of computer and communications fraud, which registered an increase of 66.7 percent in relation to the previous year (9,783 participations in 2018 and 16,301 in 2019).

"In the context of violent and serious crime, the increases recorded do not correspond to sharp fluctuations, although the participation for the crime of theft in commercial and industrial buildings went from 326 in 2018 to 423 in 2019, the participation for the crime of kidnapping and hostage taking have increased from 273 in 2018 to 338 in 2019 and those for theft crime on public roads have increased from 5,296 in 2018 to 5,923 in 2019", added the minister.

According to the minister, road safety is a priority that requires continued planning, coordination, commitment of resources and administrative capacity.

As for drug trafficking, he pointed out that there was a slight decrease compared to the previous year: seizure of hashish (-6.1 percent), heroin (-48.6 percent) and ecstasy (-82.5 percent), but in contrast a expressive increase (75.2 percent) of cocaine seizure.

"Portugal continues to be a transit country, but also a final destination for various types of narcotic substances to supply the illicit internal circuits", she recalled.