Safe Communities Algarve

A "one stop shop” of crime prevention information available to all members of the community.

Safe Communities Portugal was launched on 14th January 2015 and is Portugal’s only registered non-profit national association providing a “one stop shop” of crime prevention information available to all members of the community. Our aim is to promote safer communities, enhance security awareness and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime.  We do this through a number of specific objectives covering police/public engagement; communication and awareness; as well as enlisting public support in the fight against crime and promoting environmental protection.

Background

Safe Communities Portugal’s origins date back to 2011 when following discussions with the GNR Faro District Command, it was agreed that in order to help promote police/public engagement, particularly with the foreign community, that work should commence developing Safe Communities Algarve.

This was initially simply a website but in November 2012 it was registered as Associação Safe Communities Algarve, a non-profit association funded by donations. Over the last two years SCA has worked closely with the GNR, PSP, Judicial Police, SEF, ANPC, Turismo do Algarve, British vice Consulate, the municipalities, and many other authorities in helping to keep the Algarve a safe place to live and visit.

Services

Our association provides a diverse range of free services to the public ranging from on-line crime reporting, missing persons, reporting suspicious activities, crime prevention, tourist advice in eight languages, to the promoting public safety by supporting the work of Civil Protection. With over 70 downloads of crime prevention advice, our website hosts a comprehensive range of material much of which has been developed in association with local law enforcement agencies. These range from protecting your home to reducing the risk of cybercrime.

We have our own radio feature on Kissfm and we keep residents and visitors up to date through our fortnightly newsletter with a circulation of around 1000 persons, as well as daily news updates on our two websites which receive nearly 500 visitors per day from around 30 countries. We have a Facebook page has nearly 4000 likes, where we can circulate urgent information. We hold various displays and seminars on topics ranging from wildfire protection, property crime prevention and computer security. Our website also features a unique interactive police station locator. SCP receives around 500 enquiries from the public per year and in June 2015 we received nine crime reports some of a serious nature.

How SCP is administered

The President of SCP David Thomas is a former Assistant Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police and consultant to INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The management board of SCP comprises five persons with a diverse range of experience and skills; such as public administration, legal practice, computer security, and military and international agencies. SCP relies on donations and is run by non-salaried volunteers.

Support

The association is officially supported by the British and Dutch Ambassadors to Portugal. We have signed protocols with the GNR, PSP, SEF and the ANPC in the Algarve, and national protocols with the GNR, ANPC and SEF plus the PSP Lisbon. These outline how the association and these organizations collaborate together in order to benefit the community. We also work closely with ASAE and the Judicial Police.

Cybercrime

Safe Communities is becoming increasingly involved in the war against cybercrime and promoting the steps that can be taken to help keep our computers safe. We have written a number of features available on our website, dealing with email scams, romance fraud in respect of on-line dating; avoiding “technical support” phone scams; identity theft, and we provide a comprehensive list of direct links to most common bank security centres. We have held three well attended cybercrime seminars and more are planned for the future.

Wildfire prevention

One of our main priorities in 2015 is to help the ANPC and the GNR promote awareness of the serious problems of wildfires and measures we can all take to help safeguard our forests and the environment. Consequently SCA held five seminars across the Algarve to help convey these messages and promoted this through Facebook, on the radio, through our newsletter and on our website. We are working with the ANPC to help facilitate communication in cases of disasters.

Our plans for the future

Safe Communities is currently expanding its services to other areas of Portugal including areas such as Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais and Caldas da Rainha.  We have already held a seminar in Cascais and have taken part in their last Civil Protection Day. During 2015 we have met on several occasions with the PSP, GNR, SEF and ANPC in Lisbon to discuss various crime matters and generally planning the way forward. As a result of these discussions and public feedback, Associação SCP Safe Communities Portugal was registered as an association in late 2014.

Our service to the community

Policing is only successful when the public are engaged in the fight against crime and that is what Safe Communities is all about. The police need the public’s assistance and it is important for the community to understand the work of police and the various programs that are available.

So as we move forward, our emphasis will be to further embrace this philosophy to the benefit of all parties and communities in Portugal as well as visitors here. Crime has decreased considerably since 2008 but we must never be complacent.

It is important therefore to keep Portugal a safe place to live and visit and that is our number one aim. More about Safe Communities Algarve can be found here:

Website: http://www.safecommunitiesalgarve.com

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