Portugal Safety and Security Report Wednesday 21st February 2024

Good morning everyone. Well I hope you are enjoying the spring like weather with sunshine and cloudless skies in the south but also temperatures in the lower 20s in the north. Not unusual in the south but temperatures over 20C in the far north in February are far above usual.

The warm and dry weather however is exacerbating the drought situation in the Algarve and yesterday the Government admitted that it would introduce “additional more serious measures” to guarantee the minimum reserves that allow the supply of water for priority uses in the Algarve, if the current ones prove to be insufficient, states a resolution published today in Diário da Republic. This despite the fact that reservoirs in the Algarve continue to increase their storage levels, albeit by small percentage levels.

According to the resolution of the Council of Ministers, possible additional measures, which provide for a “higher degree of contingency” can be implemented after the reassessment of the drought situation in the region, which will be carried out in June. “[…] The Government reserves the right, if the measures now adopted prove to be insufficient, to, under the Basic Law on Civil Protection, […] declare a calamity situation”, reads the document.

The situation appears critical, and reflects the lack of long term planning, thus requiring drastic action, to avoid supplies drying up.  The state of calamity is the type of civil protection measures that were introduced during covid-19 and during major fires. This can be introduced on a national or regional basis as the situation dictates. Let us hope it does not come to this. One way to help avoid this is for each and every one of use to conserve water.

There seems at present to be quite a few scams around. One that is regularly surfacing are phone calls being received from a caller speaking in English, stating that receiver is under criminal investigation. Such calls originate from mobile telephone numbers from Portuguese operators, but all conversations are held in English, usually with an accent common in the region

When a victim receives a call of this type and answers it, they are immediately asked to listen a recorded message that, claiming to originate from a supposed “International Judicial Police”. The caller warns that your national identification document has been linked to a serious international criminal offence, which is why an arrest warrant has already been issued in her name.

This entire procedure is criminal. The sole purpose of the authors of these telephone calls is to defraud less attentive victims (by passing personal and bank details), causing them fear and anxiety that lead them to commit thoughtless acts, which will cause property damage. This is a scam and on no account should the receiver provide any information or follow the instructions. In July last year the Public Prosecutors Office issued an alert on the scam and this can be read here: https://cibercrime.ministeriopublico.pt/pagina/alerta-cibercrime-falsos-telefonemas-policiais?

 

Portugal Safety and Security Report Wednesday 14th February 2024

Good morning, well after the disappointment of the cancellation of most of the children’s Carnival events on 9th February and the Sunday carnival parades on 11th, due to bad weather under the influence of Depression Karlotta, the parades finally took place on Carnival Tuesday 13th.

The good news is however that we finally in the Algarve received some long awaited rain. In the last week or so all reservoirs in the Algarve have had an increase in storage, in the order of 2% vs the previous week. Still very low levels compared to the average. But as important as the reservoirs are, the levels of groundwater are also an important indicator and those will only be known by the end of February.

The rural fire risk has been at a low level since the start of the year and now is the time to start planning your land cleaning for those who live in rural areas, particularly high risk areas.  We are still with higher levels of humidity and cooler weather, so the fire risk remains low.

This is also the time of the year when garden waste can be burned in small piles PROVIDED the relevant safety conditions are followed. Unfortunately sometimes such burnings have become out of control as a result of those responsible not following the law concerning registration/authorisation or safety advice. As a result this has led to damage to rural areas and property and places the community and those who have to deal with such fires at risk.

It is important therefore to follow the law and adhere to the safety guidelines in burning debris. On days of Very High or Maximum Risk, waste-burning is prohibited unless prior authorisation is obtained from the Câmara Municipal. When the risk is low, moderate or high all that is required is to register the fire with the Câmara Municipal (Municipal Bombeiros) or 808 200 520 or online at https://fogos.icnf.pt/InfoQueimasQueimadas/ in advance. Inform the authority on what you intend to burn.

We have previously expressed concern that during weather warnings there are some who ignore these warnings placing themselves and rescuers in danger. It comes as no surprise therefore that in 2023 in Madeira, nearly two dozen people have been washed out to sea off the North Coast. The report goes onto say that these occasions are mostly connected with a desire to recreate photographs that they have seen on social networks.

On this subject, the Operational Commander Comandante do Corpo Operacional – SANAS Madeira, Angelo Abreu, states that “we monitor with serious concern the voluntary exposure of citizens, mostly foreigners, to risks along the coastline on days with maritime disturbance warnings in effect. “The cause for these events, either by the words of the victims themselves or by those bystanders when the outcome is fatal, has become repetitive: “a photograph”.

Angelo Abreu ensures that the close collaboration between SANAS Madeira and the Maritime Search and Rescue Sub-Centre of Funchal (MRSC Funchal) allows us to guarantee the quickest operational response times, but when people are willing to risk their own lives to recreate one photography, we have to place operational and equipment at risk for unthinkable actions that tend to occur on days when maritime disturbance warnings are in effect. We ask people therefore to respect these warnings which are in place for a very good reason – your safety.

Coupled with the record high air temperatures in January, the ocean in 2024 also continues to rise in temperature, and is warmer now than any time in 2023. Several weeks before the annual temperature peak, and this year we are already having sea temperatures above the previous record set last year. Given that it takes 3000 times more energy to heat water than air I fear we have reached a point where global warming will no longer be something that can be debated as real or “made up” – soon we will be confronted by unthinkable extremes – and unfortunately I fear that it will already be in the next few months

We wish you a Happy “Year of the Dragon” In Mandarin: “Xīnnián hǎo” (新年好),

In Cantonese: “Gong hei fat choy” (恭喜发财)

News

PSP seized drugs, 44 firearms and 26 bladed weapons in the Carnival operation

Lisbon, 13 Feb 2024 (Lusa) – The PSP seized 15,260 doses of drugs and 44 firearms, as well as 26 bladed weapons, as part of the “Carnival in Security” operation, in which it detained 13 people for possession of prohibited weapons.

Between February 5th and 12th, the Public Security Police detained 481 people, of whom 117 were for road crimes and 62 for driving under the influence of alcohol, during road inspection actions carried out in mainland Portugal and the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.

55 drivers were without a license and 49 were arrested for drug trafficking specified in the statement that the PSP issued today.

In the PSP’s area of ​​responsibility, 1,187 accidents were recorded, resulting in 351 minor injuries, five serious injuries and two fatalities.

Since the beginning of the operation, the PSP has inspected 11,290 drivers and checked 54,450 vehicles using radar.

“In total, 2,681 administrative offenses were recorded, of which we highlight 512 for speeding, 78 for driving under the influence of alcohol, 249 for lack of mandatory periodic inspection, 79 for lack of civil liability insurance and 48 for using a cell phone during driving”, explained the PSP.

Driving at excessive speeds, one of the main causes of road accidents, represented 19% of the total infractions verified.

“42 arrests were also made for crimes against property and 170 judicial arrest warrants were executed,” added the police.

Trump’s statements are “dangerous and frankly irresponsible”

Brussels, February 13, 2024 (Lusa) – The United States ambassador to NATO today considered that former President Donald Trump’s statements about encouraging the invasion of Atlantic Alliance countries by Russia are “dangerous and frankly irresponsible”.

“Encouraging the Kremlin to attack any North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] country or Alliance territory puts our soldiers – those of the United States and those of our allies – in danger. Doing so, through these types of statements, is dangerous and frankly irresponsible”, said Julianne Smith, during a briefing with journalists, via videoconference, to anticipate a ministerial meeting on Thursday.

On Saturday, Republican Donald Trump said, just a few days before the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that, if re-elected President of the United States, he would encourage Moscow to do whatever it wanted with countries with smaller contributions to NATO.

The 45th President of the United States of America (USA) made the statements during a rally in South Carolina, intensifying attacks against foreign aid and long-standing international alliances, for example, NATO.

Donald Trump said he was confronted by the President of a NATO country about the threat of letting one of the member states be attacked if they failed to meet the objectives of financial contributions to the Atlantic Alliance.

“One of the presidents of one of the big countries stood up and said, ‘Well, sir [Trump], if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, are you going to defend us?’” Trump told supporters.

And he replied: “No, I won’t protect you anymore. In fact, I will encourage you (Russia) to do whatever you want with you. You have to pay the debts you have.”

 

Portugal Safety and Security Report Wednesday 7th February 2024

Good morning, following a spell of spring time weather conditions, wet weather is set to return to the mainland from Thursday. Although there are variations in the forecasts using different metrological models, one thing is fairly sure that rain will affect all of the mainland to a greater or lesser degree, with forecasts of snow in parts of the north.

The IPMA have issued yellow level rain warnings for all districts plus yellow and orange yellow level warnings for warnings for rough seas and yellow level warnings for high winds. It is important to monitor these warnings and those issued by the ANEPC, together with the specific preventive measures. After a period of dry weather roads are bound to be slippery – so please take care.

PSP police officers and GNR soldiers are currently demanding payment of the mission supplement, similar to what was introduced recently for the Judicial Police. To reinforce their demands some have been taking medical leave. On Friday, some PSP elements from the Braga command and the Lisbon airport police station attempted to hand over their service weapons. As commanders had not authorized the delivery, the agents decided, as an alternative, to take medical leave, say the unions. The number of police officers taking sick leave has been increasing daily since Friday, but the PSP have insisted that although manning levels at Lisbon airport is reduced, it is not affecting airport security or border control. Following a gathering of some 300 PSP and GNR personnel outside the office of the Ministry of Internal Administration on 4th February, elements of the PSP and GNR will stage further protests, with vigils at airports and ports on February 15 and a demonstration in Lisbon on February 19, the Platform of Unions and Associations announced today.

In response the Prime Minister has stated that the current government lacks constitutional and political legitimacy to decide on permanent expenses referring any negotiations to the future executive. Let us hope that this can be resolved as soon as possible.

Good news is that according to the GNR, since 2013 and until 2023, there has been a positive evolution with regard to the reduction, not only in the number of rural fire ignitions, but also in the burned area itself, with 46% fewer fires being recorded in rural areas and 72% less burned area, compared to the annual average for the period. At this time of the year for those living in rural areas, especially high risk areas, we now need to turn our attention to land cleaning in order to reduce the risk of and fires  spreading to properties. The deadline for this is normally 30th April, but is never too soon to start planning on what work needs to be undertaken.

On Monday it was reported that the Safe Internet Line of the Portuguese Victim Support Association (APAV) registered 1,522 cases last year, 731 of which related to requests for support from victims of cybercrime and other forms of digital violence. Saddening is that this number represents “a significant increase” compared to the previous year, following the growth trend of recent years, according to data released by APAV. In 2023, the focus remained on fraud crimes and forms of violence associated with the threat of sharing intimate content. It is important that everyone using the internet and social media, adopts safeguards to reduce the risks of becoming a victim of cybercrime and digital violence.

Our team at Safe Communities wishes you a safe week ahead.

News

Requests for support from victims of cybercrime and digital violence increase

Lisbon, 06 Feb 2024 (Lusa) – The Safe Internet Line of the Portuguese Victim Support Association (APAV) registered 1,522 cases last year, 731 of which related to requests for support from victims of cybercrime and other forms of digital violence.

This number represents “a significant increase” compared to the previous year, following the growth trend of recent years, according to data released today by APAV.

In 2022, the association registered 478 requests for support due to cybercrime and other forms of digital violence, a source from the institution told the Lusa agency.

“In 2023, the focus remained on fraud crimes and forms of violence associated with the threat of sharing intimate content. In the case of scams, a total of 332 contacts were registered, highlighting situations of online commerce and romantic scams”, said APAV when releasing a document with which it marks Safer Internet Day.

In cases classified as sexual violence based on images, the line recorded 184 contacts: “A total of 99 contacts referred to situations of ‘sextortion’ (a form of violence in which the victim is coerced into sending intimate content or amounts of money, to prevent the aggressor from sharing intimate images of themselves)”.

There are also contacts regarding sexual crimes against children, namely situations of grooming minors for sexual purposes and pornography of minors.

The Safe Internet Line provides support in two areas, issues related to the use of technology and victims of cybercrime and other forms of digital violence (helpline) and has a platform for reporting illegal content on the internet (‘hotline’).

“In terms of the ‘hotline’, a total of 791 reports were registered, including 628 relating to content involving sexual abuse of minors — since the beginning of the pandemic, these forms of violence are the ones that have increased the most, both nationally and globally. ”, highlighted APAV.

Regarding online child sexual abuse material, the majority continues to be “self-produced by children and young people”, often achieved through “manipulation perpetrated by adults (grooming)”.

The Safe Internet Line is available by calling 800219090 (weekdays, between 8:00 am and 10:00 pm) and by email atlinhainternetsegura@apav.pt . Support is confidential and free. 

Police action demanding introduction of a mission supplement similar to Judicial Police

Lisbon, 06 Feb 2024 (Lusa) – Around 60 of the 375 police officers who work at Lisbon Airport are on leave, a union source warned today, while the National Directorate of the PSP guarantees that neither airport security nor border control is at stake .

The number of police officers taking sick leave has been increasing daily since Friday, Carlos Oliveira, leader of the Police Professionals Union Association (ASPP-PSP), told Lusa.

The union leader stated that the number of police casualties is affecting the various services of the PSP Airport Security Division in Lisbon, including border control.

Contacted by Lusa, the national management of the PSP admitted that there are police officers on leave in that division, but assured that this is not affecting airport security or border control.

The first casualties were reported after, on Friday, some PSP elements from the Braga command and the Lisbon airport police station attempted to hand over their service weapons.

As hierarchical superiors did not authorize the delivery, the agents decided, as an alternative, to take medical leave, say the unions.

The PSP Airport Security Division is where agent Pedro Costa works, who started the police protests at the Assembly of the Republic about a month ago.

Police officers are not allowed to present self-declarations of illness required through SNS24, and casualties must be certified by a doctor, a determination that arises from the professional status of the PSP, which is a special law for police officers.

In a response to Lusa, the national management of the PSP explains that police officers have five working days to justify absences from work, a period that is also applied to the presentation of proof of sick leave.

PSP and GNR elements have staged several protests to demand a supplement identical to that allocated to the Judiciary Police.

The protest began four weeks ago following the initiative of agent Pedro Costa, which later spread to the entire country.

The majority of protests have been called through social media, namely ‘WhatsApp’ and ‘Telegram’, with an inorganic movement called ‘inop movement’ emerging in recent days, which does not have any intervention from the unions, despite the existence of a platform that brings together unions from the PSP and GNR associations, created to demand a review of salary supplements for security forces.

 

Portugal Safety and Security Report Wednesday 10th January 2024

Good morning. A very changeable week as far as the weather is concerned. The start of the month was wet and relatively cool, followed by a few days of colder and dryer weather, then yesterday and today much warmer, and then from later today the expected arrival of the polar air mass which is forecast to bring temperatures as low as minus -7C in some areas of the north. The temperature variation has been pronounced, with temperatures yesterday some 5 – 6C higher than Monday.

Related to this was the social media debate on whether or not the IPMA yellow level snow warning of 2cms of snow at 600/800 metres was justified in the two districts concerned. Meteo Trás os Montes FB group – pointed out that there were no models to justify the issuing of this warning. The ECMWF forecast charts (used by IPMA) did clearly showed snow in Bragança and Vila Real districts, but at depths less than 2 cms and without the above sea level specified.  On checking the IPMA criteria for the issue of snow warnings below 1000 metres, the criteria is 1 – 5 cms in depth. Snow did in fact fall above 1000 metres in several areas in the extreme north east, but not at lower levels.

It is always a difficult to get forecasting spot on as there are so many factors and last minute variables involved. Under estimating immediately invites criticism and could put lives in danger – over estimating runs the risk that citizens do not value warnings when it is really necessary.

On Monday we reported that the Portuguese Environment Agency hopes to present a contingency plan this month for new water consumption rules in the Algarve, which is experiencing the worst drought on record. Speaking to Lusa, APA vice-president José Pimenta Machado admitted that the contingency plan will penalize agriculture more, but the quotas have not yet been defined and will be coordinated with local entities.

He added that this year, in the Algarve, is going through the worst drought ever, with the lowest levels of reservoir reserves ever and the same thing in groundwater”, a “consequence of ten years of drought”. In response the president of the Algarve Intermunicipal Community (AMAL), António Miguel Pina, stated that the situation is very worrying. We are close to a catastrophic situation and we have to start saving water seriously”. Safe Communities has regularly pointed out that everyone needs to do more to conserve water. This issue has dragged on for far too long and with the effects of climate change already being felt, and possibly worse to come, immediate action is needed. We await the announcement and details of the water consumption rules.

Also to do with water we learned yesterday that Spain had decided to raise the alert level on the coast of Galicia and Asturias after a “flood” of pellets – micro plastics in the sea. According to information released by the Spanish government, the owner of the boat that on December 8th lost containers of the cargo it was transporting, 80 kilometres from Viana do Castelo, said that more than a thousand bags containing around 26.2 tons of these balls (known as nurdles) with around five millimetres in diameter, used to manufacture plastics and which are now washing up on the coast in northern Spain. The Portuguese authorities are currently closely following the case, which could become problematic.

Nurdles pose a great threat to marine life. These small round plastics usually float on the surface of the water where many species feed. They’re easily mistaken for fish eggs and other foods by a variety of species, including turtles, fish and seabirds.

Lastly with the forecast of very cold conditions over the next two days, we remind everyone of the need to following closely warnings issued by the IPMA and ANEPC which are for everyone’s safety.  After the rain today any sudden change to sub-zero temperature is likely to makes roads as well as pavements treacherous. It is important to help those who maybe be vulnerable especially those with mobility disabilities in such conditions.

Our team wish you a safe week ahead.

 News:

Doctor suspected of selling “falsified” death certificates arrested

The Judicial Police arrested a 65-year-old doctor in Faro on suspicion of selling death certificates without verifying the causes of death to two Algarve funeral homes that were, this Tuesday, the target of searches.

According to information collected by JN, the scheme allowed the quick resolution of funeral ceremonies, in exchange for financial compensation. Between 2021 and 2022, the doctor will have received around 80 euros for each death certificate and the Faro PJ investigation is still investigating the number of falsified certificates that were issued.

The documents were passed remotely, without the doctor going to the place where the dead were, namely in the areas of Faro and Loulé. Thus, the causes of death were never verified.

According to the PJ, the certificates were issued “without the practice of any act that ensures prior effective knowledge of the cause of death, upon receipt of economic compensation and with the aim of preventing the intervention of the judicial authorities or the performance of the autopsy medico-legal”.

In searches of the doctor’s office and residence, as well as the two funeral homes, the PJ seized computers and documentation that will now be analysed.

The doctor, suspected of the crime of corruption, must be taken to the first judicial interrogation this Wednesday, at the Court of Faro.