Public safety is an essential element in the quality of life of any community. Although the “state” in the form of the law enforcement authorities is the instrument by which public safety and protection of property is safeguarded, all of us as citizens have a role to play. Good security starts and ends with all of us and the purpose of Safe Communities is to harness public support and cooperation with the authorities in the fight against crime.
This is the same with civil protection. Everyone has a role to play in the prevention of rural fires, through risk awareness as well as self protection in the event that fires and other disasters may occour. Safe Communities has a statutory role as an official Civil Protection Volunteer Organisation under Portuguese law to help create such awareness through the communication of official information and advice to the international community in Portugal as well as visitors.
Safe Communities Portugal (SCP) was formed following consultation with police as it was clear that there is a need to foster closer police public engagement with the aim of achieving greater collaboration in preventing crime.
The name “Safe Communities Portugal” has been chosen as it reflects the work that the government is already taking to help keep the country a safe place to live, and also because the word “communities” enshrines both residents and visitors.
Safe Communities Algarve (SCA) was created by David Thomas a former Assistant Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police and consultant to INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Since 2009 he has been actively involved in promoting crime prevention in the Algarve, giving presentations to organizations such as International Rotary, British Consulate Outreach events, AFPOP Eastern Section and the public together with the GNR, PSP and other government agencies. He has visited victims of crime, assisted the police and civil authorities in the Region and helped promote and develop the GNR SRP.
In October 2011 following discussions with the GNR Faro District Commander, David created SCA as an on-line platform providing comprehensive crime prevention information and services to the community. On 2nd November 2012 SCA was registered as a non-profit Association, named “Associação Safe Communities Algarve”.
It is believe to be the first registered non-profit crime prevention association in Portugal.
Since its formation SCA has become increasing active in initiating and developing various crime prevention projects in collaboration with various authorities.
During 2013 we completed a project with the help of British Vice Consulate and with the financial support of the UK Government, in developing crime prevention stickers for the car hire industry in the Algarve. We also helped the PSP police in developing a guideline in English of the points to take into account in selecting an alarm company.
SCA also initiated and worked closely with Turismo de Portugal and the Ministry of Internal Administration in Lisbon in producing Portugal’s first Gambling Information Leaflet in English.
In December 2013 SCA organized and held its first event outside of the Algarve in the form of a Crime Prevention Seminar in Cascais for residents living in that area as well as Sintra and Lisbon.
In July 2014 the registered name of the association was changed to Associacao SCP Safe Communities Portugal to reflect its broadened responsibilities in other parts of the country.
Safe Communities Portugal was formally launched in January 2015 at a ceremony hosted by the British Ambassador Kirsty Hayes, in the presences of government officials and representatives of other overseas missions based in Portugal.
One of the highlights of 2015 was the holding of a local lodging seminar in Faro, attended by government officials including the Secretary of State for Tourism with speakers from five government departments, attended by over 300 people.
This website Safe Communities Portugal was launched in May 2015, and by December, this and our Safe Communities Algarve website had recorded over a half a million page visits.
In the New Year Honours List for 2016 Her Majesty the Queen has awarded David Thomas, as President, Safe Communities Portugal, the British Empire Medal (BEM), in recognition of his “services to crime prevention and awareness within the British and international community in Portugal”. This was presented in July 2016 at the British Embassy in Lisbon.
In August 2018 the SCP website was expanded to incorporate a section for Lisbon, where residents and visitors can find out more about police and civil protection services in the District.
In the New Years Honours for 2021 Her Majesty the Queen awarded David Thomas the President of Safe Communities Portugal. a Member of the British Empire (MBE) , in recognition of his services to public safety in Portugal and services to British nationals. The presentation ceremony will be held during the year.
Since the creation of Safe Communities Algarve in November 2012 and the creation of Safe Communities Portugal in January 2015, a number of Protocol have been signed with various authorities in order to foster close relationships and provide a framework for mutual co-operation.
Safe Communities Algarve (SCA) is supported by both the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), and Polícia Segurança Publica PSP and has written protocols with both of these organizations outlining our collaborative arrangements. These were approved by the General Commands in Lisbon and signed in 2012.
In January 2015 the newly formed Associacao SCP Safe Communities Portugal signed a national protocol with the GNR National Headquarters Command and a further protocol with the PSP Lisbon Metropolitan Command covering this area.
These Protocols include ways in which we collaborate with the PSP and GNR and vice versa. The provisions include the holding of seminars and displays; the SCA support for the GNR Safe Residence Program; the publication of GNR and PSP material on the SCA website and the provision of links to the SCA website from the GNR and PSP sites. Also covered is the forming of joint initiatives in terms of crime prevention to help combat crime.
On 27th February 2014 SCA was priviledged to sign a protocol with Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) in order to strengthen collaboration between the two organizations, in particular creating greater awareness of SEF’s work and activities and to develop joint initiatives and activities in the future.
On 31st July 2014 the association signed a protocol with the ANPC (civil Protection Agency) following a joint awareness campaign held from May to June in wildfire prevention and environmental protection. The protocol establishes a formal link between the two organizations which will help in planning further activities and will therefore benefit the community.
On 21st January 2015, the newly launched Safe Communities Portugal signed a protocol with AMAL (Comunidade Intermunicipal do Algarve) reflecting the close collaboration between the association and the Mayors from 18 municipalities in the Algarve. at an earlier meeting held on 22nd December 2014 the Mayors present at the meeting voted unanimously in support of the protocol.
On 10th December 2015, the Associaion signed protocols with the Autoridade Nacional de Protectҫao Civil (ANPC) (National Authority for Civil Protection) and Serviҫo de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF). Both events took place in separate signing ceremonies held at the organisation’s respective headquarters in Lisbon. The SEF protocol was signed by the National Director António Pereira and the ANPC protocol by the President, Major General Francisco Grave Pereira.
On 26th April 2018 Safe Communities Portugal signed a protocol with the Secretary of State for Internal Administration Isabel Oneto to help further enhance the security of foreigners in the Algarve. This includes the development of the Safe Communities Portugal Association’s website to provide advice to foreign tourists in the Algarve, produce and distribute information leaflets, as well as provide informational content to develop communications media, as part of actions to prevent crime for foreigners, and organize events. Report in Portuguese here.
On 26th April 2018, Safe Communities Portugal entered into a protocol with the Ministry of Internal Administration concerning its work to promote Safe Tourism in the Algarve. This enabled the holding of various events and the production of leaflets to promote this theme.
In January 2019, to mark its work concerning Safe Tourism, Safe Communities Portugal signed a protocol with the Turismo de Portugal, in order to facilitate enhanced communication concerning security and safety matters in the area of tourism and develop new initiatives concerning this.
SCP also works closely with a number of other authorities such as the Municipal councils, Turismo de Portugal, ICNF National Forestry Authority, Judicial Police, Night Guard Service, ASAE, ICNF (National Forestry Authority), the British, Dutch, French, German Irish and US Embassies and many others.