Portugal´s only registered non-profit crime prevention association providing dedicated information and support services to the community

12 July 2018


Since the last newsletter I managed to take a break in the UK with my wife Jane, which turned out, in part, to be more a working holiday.
Apart from the normal enquiries, I received an invitation to take part in a Skype conversation with the Head of the newly formed Special Fire Management Unit, which was recently set up by the Prime Minister to look at ways to prevent rural fires and protect the public should fires break out.

Part of their work is to draw upon overseas expertise. Anyway this turned out to be a lengthy but inspiring discussion during which Safe communities was invited to collaborate with the unit, which I accepted. What transpired from this is a lead story in this newsletter, but the bottom line is that we were heavily committed to this over an eight day period, hence the delay of this edition.

There is a great deal going on at present both with regards to rural fires and crime prevention. Both these subjects take on a different dimension during the summer, with the risk of fires increasing and, at the same time, a change of focus by criminals due to increased visitors.

Some of our work now involves direct contact with two Ministries, one being the Ministry of Internal Administration and the second the Economy Ministry in the form of the Secretary of State for Tourism. In respect of the former we are being tasked both in respect of fire prevention and protection especially promoting the Safe village - Safe People Program, as well developing new crime prevention material aimed at visitors. 

During the same period we held a seminar, together with the ANPC, regarding the Safe Village - Safe People program in Penamacor which is about 60 kms north of Castelo Branco. Some 32 people attended which we were very pleased with, given the small size of the foreign community in the area.We will continue to reach out to foreign communities where we can throughout Portugal and are pleased to hear from people living in such communities who we can work with to get crime prevention and public safety messages across..

At the same time we are further developing our expertise with the appointment of an adviser, Carlos Trindade, regarding rural fires who has considerable in this area. More details in this newsletter. Such appointments will help us in delivering a increased quality of service to the community based on relevant professional skills and experience. If you have specific skills in the area of policing, crime prevention, security or civil protection, and have time available to help the community, we are pleased to hear from you.

With summer now upon us there are many more visitors here in the Algarve, and we are receiving reports concerning distraction crime, especially in car parks of shopping centres and supermarkets - please be cautious if approached by people you do not know. More details in this newsletter.

To keep up to date with news and events please visit our new page here.  All our previous newsletter can be downloaded from our website here.

We thank all our sponsors for your help in enabling us to continue to do the work that we do. Thank you Conrad Algarve, IBC Security, SmartaVillas,Toldolanda and Buy Portugal for sponsoring this new sletter.

To learn more about how to sponsor a newsletter by becoming one of our supporters please contact us on 913045093 or at   [email protected]

David Thomas
Safe Communities Portugal


Portugal has a new attitude towards forest fires - Prime Minister

"More than we have more elements and means" to combat forest fires, this year "we have a new attitude", said the Prime Minister António Costa at the session to present the results of the initiatives on prevention and fight forest fires, held in Lisbon on 2 nd July 2018.

This new attitude translates into the fulfilment of the three priorities defined by the Government in October 2017: greater interaction between prevention and combat; increased professionalism and qualification; and greater specialization and knowledge in the decision making.

During the session, organised by the Mission Structure for the installation of the Integrated Management System for Rural Fire, the Prime Minister stated that "never before this year has there been so much invested in prevention, and investing in prevention is the best way to avoid fighting fires".

The effort to increase professionalism and qualification "was made in all entities, those of the State, which increased their human resources, and the private ones, such as voluntary firefighters, which increased professionalism through permanent intervention teams".

"Never before this year did the owners of forest areas make such a large effort to clean their land, local authorities mobilised both to clean and inspect the areas that were to be cleaned to reduce the fuel load in the forest." "The league and volunteer fire brigades were as involved in the preparation as all the other civil protection agents."

"A great effort regarding awareness and information was also disseminated to the public, through a system to characterise the areas with the highest fire risk foreseen for 2018", based on scientific information.

This scientific forecast "enabled the development of the Safe Villages - Safe People information Program. For the first time we have a program focused on an essential thing namely: that each one knows how to protect themselves and to create conditions of safety of the public, that is the first line defence ", in a territory with" enormous dispersion of settlements and isolated houses". 

Safe Communities Portugal invited to participate in project by special fire team created by Prime Minister

Safe Communities Portugal was recently invited by Tiago Oliveira Head of the the Mission Structure for the installation of the Integrated Management System for Rural Fires, which was established by (and reports direct to) the Prime Minister in late 2017, to participate in seminars and train the trainer programs that were conducted in Monchique and Talasmal to the south east of Cumbria. 

This covered a period of eight days, with train the trainer sessions being conducted by Landworks, a South African company, with extensive experience in rural fire prevention and protection. W orking with the government there, they have established a number of Firewise Communities throughout the country. 

In Firewise Communities protection and prevention is not seen as the responsibility of fire brigades or other fire management agencies; these responsibilities belonging to everyone in the community. They also work on the basis of fire risk assessment which is the responsibility of the community working together with local officials.

The Portuguese government concerned with issue of rural fires, decided towards the end of last year to seek assistance from certain overseas countries in terms of both prevention and protection measures. Teams have since visited Portugal to share their vast experience, explain various programs which they undertake, with a view seeing what measures could be introduced in Portugal suitably adapted for local conditions, under the Safe Village - Safe People program.

Irrespective of whether or not this is formalised with further training programs conducted by overseas trainers remains to be seen, but the collective bottom up approach, just as in crime prevention, makes a lot of sense.

The trainer programs were attended by Colin Scarisbrick (SCP rep in Caldas da Rainha), Peter Weaver (Adviser to SCP) and myself. 

Apart from the train the trainer programs, seminars were held in Monchique and in Talasnal,a  Schist village  the latter attended by the Secretary of Sate for Tourism, and Tiago Oliveira, which included presentations by Landworks, the ANPC concerning the Safe Village - Safe People program  and by Safe Communities Portugal on the subject of Safety for tourists regarding rural fires. The SCP presentation can be downloaded here

In Talasnal  SCP met with Professor Domingos Xavier Viegas, who is Head of the  Forest Fire Research Centre, a branch of the Association for the Development of Industrial Aerodynamics (ADAI) closely connected to the Department of Mechanical Engineering (DEM) of the Science and Technology Faculty of Coimbra`s University (FCTUC). 

The Forest Fire Research Centre is mainly dedicated to the applied research in the field of forest fires and fires in the wildland urban interface (WUI) namely the physical aspects of the fire. Its main goal is the promotion of scientific knowledge about the phenomena related to the occurrence and spread of wildfires in order to support the common efforts for the mitigation of their negative impacts

Professor Viegas has kindly undertaken to help Safe Communities Portugal by providing information on this subject, which we can disseminate to local communities. Professor Viegas was the coordinator of the enquiry team into the Pedrógão Grande fires in 2017.

Meeting Between Safe Communities Portugal and ANPC Lisbon 

SCP President David Thomas and SCP Board Member and Security Advisor, Chris Stretton met at 1430 hours on Monday 2 July at the Headquarters of ANPC with: Patrícia Gaspar - Second National Operational Commander; Jose Oliveira - National Director Emergency Planning; Jorge Dias - Division Head - Divisão de Comunicação e Sensibilização;Soraia Jorge - Personal Officer to the President and Hélder Lima - Técnico Superior - Divisão de Comunicação e Sensibilização

This was part of the programme of regular meetings between the two organisations based upon the Protocol between SCP and ANPC.

Items discussed included: Matters arising from the last meeting in December 2017; Communication with Tourists; Prevention and protection including prevention leaflets for tourists during the Critical Fire Period; Dealing with emergencies; SCP communication with ANPC; fire status updates; informing the foreign community and dealing with enquiries; the 'Safe Village - Safe People', program and presentations in English.

During the meeting SCP emphasised the challenges faced previously in communicating vital information during major fires to the foreign community and tourists, and ANPC briefed SCP on technical innovations being developed to help in this regard.

SCP outlined the recent meeting with the Secretary of State for Civil Protection as well as a discussion with the Secretary of State for Tourism concerning fire risk and protection with tourists visiting Portugal. 

As part of this, the recent work of SCP in helping the IPMA and ICNF was noted, the most recent innovation being the publication of the IPMA fire risk in English.

Breaking News

56 persons linked to Hells Angels motorcycle group arrested for serious crimes ahead of Faro's motorcycle gathering

The Judicial Police have arrested 56 individuals linked to the Hells Angels motorcycle group for, aggression, arms trafficking, drug and criminal association.

A new attack by the Hells Angels was imminent, believes the Judiciary Police (PJ), which arrested a total of 56 individuals linked to the group on Wednesday, in a north-south operation. 

The proximity of Faro's annual motorcycle gathering, within a few days, precipitated the police action, for serious fear of increasing escalation of violence against rival group Red & Gold, linked to the Americans Los Bandidos.

The Judicial Police, through the National Counter-Terrorism Unit (UNCT), in close coordination with all of its structures based in the national territory and under investigation by the DCIAP, following a complex investigation, conducted the vast operation aimed at the complete dismantling of a violent criminal association.

This action is part of a series of investigations into the illegal activities carried out on the national territory by the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club ( HAMC ).

Around 80 search warrants were executed on Wed 11th July, targeted at the suspects in this criminal structure, consisting of extremely dangerous individuals with extensive criminal records and extensive background in violent and organised crime.

The detainees will be present from tomorrow to the first judicial interrogation for the application of the measure of coercion deemed to be convenient.

Today, the Judiciary Police will provide additional clarification on the development of this operation.     

Top stories

Two Fire Fighters appear in court for causing rural fires in 2017

At an initial court hearing in Alenquer, just to the north of Lisbon, the court decided last week that two local firefighters, suspected of setting fires in the area from early last summer, will be held in custody until their court appearance. This is the most serious of pre-trial court conditions.

The two men, aged 20 and 23, are suspected of having caused at least a dozen forest and urban fires, one of which resulted in the deployment of aircraft.

A fire that occurred last September in Casarnal caused injuries to a firefighter and a forest fighter, put at risk five houses and mobilised three aircraft/helicopters, 42 vehicles and 150 firefighters.

The same PJ source explained that the two firefighters, a professional and another volunteer, acted only to have more work and therefore increased financial remuneration in the fire department, when mobilised to fight the fires.

The investigation by the PJ commenced when members of the public reported to the authorities the existence of suspicious vehicles next to the zone where the fires broke out. The PJ concluded that it was the vehicles of the suspects.

They used gasoline, which they scattered in isolated areas of bush and grove.

The fires of which they are indicted occurred both on days when they were off duty and on duty.

The commander of the Volunteer Firefighters of Alenquer, Rodolfo Baptista, told Lusa that he had never suspected the two firefighters, but, in the face of suspicions about them, he decided to suspend them from duty and has been collaborating with the PJ,.


It appears incredible that a serving firefighter can use gasoline on duty to set fire to the environment thereby putting not only the public in danger, but also that of his colleagues who have to extinguish the fire.

In addition to the prosecution taking place, it is hoped that there will be a thorough internal investigation to ascertain how this could happen, what supervision was in place or lack of it to find ways to avoid this happening again.

Safe Communities News

Appointment of forest fire expert as fire prevention adviser to Safe Communities Portugal

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Carlos Júlio Trindade as an Advisor to Safe Communities Portugal.

Carlos graduated in Forestry Engineering from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro in Vila Real.

Carlos began his professional activity as a Trainee Researcher at the Association for the Development of Industrial Aerodynamics (ADAI), where he mainly carried out research on behaviour of forest fires and forest fuels.

Throughout his professional career he maintained a permanent link to the theme of forest fires, from the frequency of various courses and training, mainly related to the behaviour of fires and individual security. He has developed several works within the theme, mainly forest fire defence plans, from the local (parish) to the municipal and national level.

Since 2006, he has been working in the forestry technical office of the municipality of Mafra.
In 2011 he assumed the position of Municipal Coordinator of the Municipal Civil Protection Service and Director of the Municipal Heliport.

Carlos participated in many seminars and works both as a participant or speaker at conferences in Portugal and abroad.
Notable Arrests

PJ arrested 16 suspects of "piracy" with TV and Net in Viana
Sixteen people have been detained in more than 30 home searches, with the dismantling of five networks of illegal sharing of television and Internet signals (criminal practice known as "cardsharing"). 

This was the result of an operation held on Thursday 5th July by the Judicial Police (PJ) and by the Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM) in the municipalities of Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo.

The detainees, including the alleged network chiefs and some users, appeared at the Viana do Castelo court, where they were released with pre-trial conditions of identity and residence. Approximately 80 inspectors from the boards of PJ of Braga, Porto and Vila Real participated in the operation, accompanied by more than two dozen technicians from Anacom.

According to a source from PJ de Braga, it is a "very profitable business", which involves the "illicit obtaining of the signal from an operator of TV and Internet packages that is then spread through tampered equipment."

In this case, the distributors charged, in addition to the cost of acquiring the "adulterated box," between €10 and €20 per month" for each user, each of the five dismantled networks having received "between a few tens to more than a hundred euros from clients".

Please be very cautious if you are approached by anyone offering these sorts of services at cheap rates - the likelihood is that they are illegal. 
Eight suspected robbers of vehicles arrested in northern Portugal

The Judiciary Police has announced the arrest of eight suspects indicted on a number of theft crimes of cars and other vehicles in the northern region.

In a statement, the PJ added that the detainees undertook the crimes using firearms stealing very high value items.

It also says that "significant part" of the stolen vehicles was diverted to workshops with a view to their total or partial dismantling, while others were "moved to Spain for sale.

According to the PJ, that "criminal structure" had been operational since 2016 and had a transnational scope, with one of its members being detained in the execution of a European arrest warrant.

"The detention proceedings were complemented by 10 domiciliary searches and 6 non-domiciliary searches, in the course of which material with relevant to the investigation was seized," the statement said.

The detainees, seven Portuguese and one foreigner, are between the ages of 30 and 50 and are "heavily indicted" of the crime of criminal association for the purpose of crimes against property.
They have criminal records for crimes of the same nature. Two of them were already subject to coercion measures also on suspicion of crimes against property.
ASAE apprehends more than 10 thousand ice creams from beach operators

The ASAE announced Monday that it has instituted 75 cases of misconduct for operators who carry out their economic activity in bathing areas and seized 18 thousand euros worth of food, including more than 10 thousand ice-creams.

In this operation, the Food and Economic Security Authority (ASAE) inspected 446 operators and detected 75 infractions, which correspond to a default rate of 17%.

Among the main infractions detected are the non-compliance with procedures related to the food safety protocol, lack of licensing / registration, non-compliance with hygiene requirements or those related to infrastructures of catering establishments, lack or price list inaccuracies and disregard for price-reduced sales regulation.

In this operation 10,482 units of ice-cream were also seized for improper use of a weighing instrument and lack of temperature control.

"The seizures amount to around 18 thousand euros," said the entity, noting that there was still the suspension of the activity, due to lack of hygiene requirements.

The inspection action was directed to economic operators who carry out their activities in the bathing areas, namely beaches, tourist companies, maritime tourism operators and ice-cream parlours.

The operation took place at the national level and was attended by ASAE, the Regional Inspection of Economic Activities, the Autonomous Region of the Azores and the Regional Authority for Economic Activities of the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

In terms of beach support, the operation also took place simultaneously in several member countries of the CPLP Food Security and Economic Activities Inspection Forum, namely IGA (Angola), ARFA and IGAE (from Cape Verde), IGAC (Guinea Bissau), INAE (Mozambique), DNIAE (Sao Tome and Principe) and AIFAESA (Timor-Leste).

Local News

PSP destroys about a thousand firearms

About 9,000 firearms were destroyed on 9 th July by the Public Security Police, marking the worldwide commemorations of the International Day of the Destruction of Weapons.

The firearms that were destroyed have been declared as lost or confiscated by the State in criminal proceedings, administrative or administrative processes, after being seized by the PSP and other police authorities, says the national direction of the PSP, in communicated.

On the International Day for the Destruction of Weapons, by the United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and governments carried out similar actions to destroy weapons, with the motto: "Each weapon destroyed can no longer be used to kill, injure or intimidate".
This action is intended to draw attention to the problem of the need for arms control by the authorities.

The operation of weapons destruction was held in Maia ain the presence of Assistant Secretary of State and Internal Administration, Isabel Oneto.

Mandatory Registration of Drones

The Council of Ministers has approved the decree-law establishing a mandatory registration and compulsory civil liability insurance system applicable to civilian remotely piloted aircraft systems, better known as drones.

The Minister of Planning and Infrastructures, Pedro Marques, stated that although Portugal already had legislation with "flight ceilings and airport operation", "it was found that we did not have enough instruments, not only to detect, but above all to penalize misuse '.

The registration system 'means that at the time of acquisition of each drone the essential data of the drone and aircraft operator are recorded and communicated to the National Civil Aviation Authority through a computer platform, which will send the aircraft operator a system which has to be placed in the drone by the user.

The Minister said that with this system, "if any of these drones are detected operating in a prohibited zone, it will be possible to identify and hold the operator responsible".

The identification system will be mandatory for drones with more than 250 grams, and civil liability insurance for drones with more than 900 grams, following Portugal's legislation and international experience. 

The owners of drones who have bought them before the entry into force of the legislation, will also have to register them in the computer platform of ANAC.

The legislation now approved also establishes the sanctioning regime to be applied in case of non-compliance with the established rules, a task that is the responsibility of ANAC, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of activities related to the civil use of these aircraft.

Six and a half years in prison for security guards who assaulted a client in a bar in Porto

The two security guards who attacked a bar customer in Porto in 2013, leaving him with serious and permanent consequences, were sentenced on Monday 9th July to six and a half years in prison.

The São João Novo Court, in Porto, also sentenced these two defendants to pay the victim compensation of €80,000.

The case involves two more accused, another security man and the owner of the establishment accused of exercising unlawful security, the former having been sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment. Another was second sentenced to one year and eight months' imprisonment, suspended on his execution, on the condition that he write an apology to the victim for having persons exercising illegal security in his establishment.

According to the indictment, on August 5, 2013, at approximately 1:00 pm on August 5, 2013, in a bar in Oporto, the two defendants, who were exercising illicit security at the establishment, assaulted a client leaving him in coma.

One of the defendants, known as the security chief, recognised a client, whom he had disagreed years before, deciding to settle accounts, he said.

The defendant and another security officer approached the 42-year-old victim and struck him with punches and kicks to the head after being pushed to the ground.

After being left unconscious, they left him on the ground, on the street, and robbed him of a cell phone, a gold necklace and personal documents, the charge adds.

He was taken to the hospital, where he was in a coma for a month, the victim had permanent injuries such as slowness of thought, impulsivness, personality change and decreased energy.

New SEF Website

Last week, SEF presented is new website (  www.sef.pt) The address is the same, but the information is now reorganised and there is a new feature, in particular the Personal Area.

The On-line scheduling (for booking appointments) is now available for Renewing Residence Permit/Residence card and for extending the period of permanence - applicable to holders of transit visa, short stay visa, or temporary stay vista)system) at the Personal Area.

Users should register at the Website using the title number, date of birth, nationality and creating a password to access the Personal Area. At "My SEF Area", citizens can then schedule their appointment to any SEF' Bureau, reschedule it or cancel it. Rescheduling and Cancelling are new features.

When coming to SEF's bureau, citizens could ask SEF to activate their digital access to the new online features. SEF will confirm the identity of the citizen and activate the second line services.

Strengthening of air capacity and GIPS to fight rural fires 

The Secretary of State for Civil Protection, José Artur Neves, said that Portugal has this year the "highest coverage ever in air" to combat rural fires.

In Guarda, at the end of a visit to the Centre of Air Logistics, the Secretary of State said that there are "55 aerial facilities in the continent, plus one in Madeira, operating at a priority directed to the first attack".

José Artur Neves said that the firefighting plan includes 40 helicopters, including medium and light, and there are also helicopter brigades from GIPS - the Intervention, Protection and Relief Group of the GNR.

GIPS teams have been extended to the 18 districts of the continent because, as well as being part of a "well-prepared structure" to eliminate fires, they are also part of a police investigative force, of land and direct action against arsonists.

The Secretary of State added that coordination between the helicopter crews and the elements on the ground has already enabled simultaneous surveillance and "catching several arsonists". "We want to strengthen this vigilance and immediate attack"," he said.

In addition GIPS has received 20 light vehicles to fight fires, as part of an investment of 2.2 million euros that includes the delivery of a total of 80 vehicles.

At a ceremony in Lisbon, José Artur Neves, said that all the vehicles expected will be on the ground in a maximum of two weeks and that the next delivery will be made on July 6, with a further 21 vehicles.

He added that the special force of the Intervention Group for Protection and Relief was reinforced with 500 new elements (now counting 1064 soldiers) and that it is prepared to intervene throughout the country, being distributed by 39 air centres (previously 22).
Crime Prevention

Lost or Stolen British Passports

Her Majesty's Passport Office and Action Fraud UK have teamed up to urge people to report their lost and stolen passports to prevent unrecovered and unreported documents from being abused and used to commit identity crime or facilitate illegal travel across borders.

Almost 50 million people hold a UK passport of which just under 400,000 are reported lost or stolen each year. This represents less than 1% of all passports in circulation, yet despite the risks associated with lost or stolen passports, people are waiting on average 73 days before making a report.

Once a passport is reported as lost or stolen, HM Passport Office cancel it, and share the information within 24 hours with the National Crime Agency to record the loss or theft on Interpol's Stolen and Lost Travel Document database.

By sharing the details of lost or stolen passports, law enforcement agencies including border and immigration control officers are able to keep ahead of the criminals who attempt to get a UK passport illegally. This also ensures action can be taken against anyone identified as having obtained a passport by fraudulent means.

Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, said: "When you lose your bank card, the first thing you do is contact your bank and have it cancelled, yet people don't treat lost or stolen passports with the same urgency.

"But not reporting a lost or stolen passport can have severe consequences, such as people using your identity or attempting to use your documents to try to enter the country illegally.


It has been bought to our attention that there are travellers arriving at Faro and Lisbon airports with a passport that they have previously reported as lost, but have subsequently found it and used it for travel. The passport has then been retained by SEF. If you report a passport as lost it is immediately cancelled and a new one is required before travel.

D istraction Theft

Another crime reported in the local news in the last few days is a case of Distraction Theft. In this case the victim was shopping in a store in Algarve shopping and was bumped into by a man. A short while afterwards she found her purse containing her credit card was missing and had been used elsewhere to purchase goods.

I have replied to the letter and the following is an extract from this which highlights this issue and preventative steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of this type of crime
"As she rightly points out these types of crimes usually involve two people, one to cause the distraction itself, and the other to steal the item.

When thefts of credit/debit cards are involved the criminal needs to know the pin number. I suspect in this case the criminals saw the number being entered upon payment of the goods at the checkout, waited for the opportune moment and then stole the handbag containing the debit and credit card. As Patricia stated they wasted no time in purchasing goods using the stolen card.

Distraction thefts normally take place in crowded stores or supermarkets. The reason for this is that customers who may have queued for some time are naturally eager to pack their bags, pay for the goods and leave the store as soon as possible, and the last thing on their minds is distraction theft. 

To avoid becoming a victim, it is important to keep your hand over the pin reader when entering the number and to check people are not observing you close by. Some supermarkets are now reading their card readers towards the end of checkout counters away from those in the queue which is added security.

Distractions can take place by simply one of the two criminals asking you for directions or perhaps water on a hot day in a supermarket car park, to offering assistance to you in some way when you are loading your car. Some of these involve the theft of handbags placed on shopping trolleys. Whatever the method, the one thing in common is that the criminal is clever in seizing opportunities where people can easily be distracted, so please be aware of any strangers who may approach you regardless of their apparent good intentions.

If you do become a victim of distraction theft, even before calling the police, call your bank immediately and report this. Usually criminals try and use the card within a few minutes of the theft".

More crime prevention advice in 10 languages can be downloaded here.

Theft of Items from a car at petrol station on A22

We have been informed of a theft that took place in the first week of July at a petrol station on the A22 in the direction of Spain.

The victim filled his car with petrol, went to the payment counter and washroom, but forgot to lock his car. Bags containing valuables and cash were stolen from the vehicle. It appears the occupant(s) of a vehicle parked close by may have been responsible.


Please remember to lock your car even if leaving it unattended for a few seconds!

Keep valuables out of sight!

Please see our tips regarding prevention of theft from vehicles here.

GNR SEPNA Reporting Environmental Crime

GNR have a unit which deals with environmental crime. With its Headquarters in Lisbon it has units at most divisional GNR stations in the country, including six in the Algarve, namely Albufeira, Faro, Portimão, Loule, Silves and Tavira.

SEPNA's responsibilities are vast, but mainly cover, cruelty to animals, rural fire prevention enforcement, water pollution, etc.

There is also a national telephone service 808 200 520 which can be used to report which is available 24 hours a day throughout the year, through which you can report situations that may violate environmental laws and land use planning.

In addition situations can be reported on-line by simply providing your name and full address. A response will be sent in due course regarding the result of the investigation of the exposed situation.

Civil Protection and Public Safety

Critical Fire Period now in effect

This is applicable from 1st July until 30th September REGARDLESS OF THE ACTUAL LOCAL MUNICIPAL FIRE RISK ON THAT DAY

The following is the official wording by the ICNF on the IPMA website, which was translated for the ICNF into English by Safe Communities Portugal.
  • Burning for grassland renewal, cleaning stubble or debris that is uncut or cut on the ground, but NOT in piles, is not permitted 
  • The burning of piled-up waste is not permitted 
  • The use of stoves, BBQs and grills is prohibited in all rural spaces, except where used outside of the critical areas and in places duly authorised for the purpose. 
  • Smoking and all types of naked flames are prohibited in woodland and forests. 
  • Balloons with a lit fuse and rockets are prohibited. Fireworks are only permitted subject to authorisation from the Municipal Council. 
  • Fumigating and pest control in apiaries are prohibited except where the fumigators are fitted with spark retention devices. 
  • Spark retention devices and flame covers must be used on exhaust pipes and chimneys of machinery with internal or external combustion engines and on heavy transport vehicles. One or two 6 kg fire extinguishers must be carried depending on whether the maximum weight is less or more than ten tonnes.

More information in English concerning rural fire prevention can be found here.
Use of BBQs during Critical Fire period 

The following was issued by the ICNF on 15th May 2018 at the request of Safe Communities Portugal, as there are often questions on this subject.

  • "When grills or BBQ are placed in rural areas (agriculture, forest or shrub land areas) you have to follow the restrictions mentioned in both ICNF Fire risk tables (during and outside the critical period).
  • When grills or BBQ are placed in treated home gardens you may use them, regardless the critical period and the municipality fire risk.  Of course that, despite there is no law against the use of treated home gardens grills and BBQ, days of very high/highest fire risk and hours of high temperatures should be avoided.
  • In any case, in the event of a fire, the user is held responsible for the damages caused.
  • After the grill/BBQ is used, check that the coal/fire is completely put out."
When using BBQs precautions should be taken that these are not used near inflammable material or vegetation and not on windy days where embers could cause fires nearby.

Cybercrime and Computer Security 

Holiday Accommodation Rentals in Portugal - Registration

We receive enquiries from potential holiday makers asking if a property that is advertised actually exists and is legitimate.

All short term holiday properties for rent in Portugal need to be registered for letting. This is to ensure that basic safety standards are met. All such properties for rental, advertised in Portugal are required by law to state the AL number in the advertisement. Overseas organizations such as Airbnb also state this.

Properties that are not AL registered may not have the basic safety and security standards in place, and in the event of an accident may not therefore covered by insurance for holidaymakers, invalidating any claim.

Check carefully before booking your holiday that the property has an AL number. If not certain check with the advertiser. If in doubt book one that has.

To check if a property is legally registered check the Tourism of Portugal website link here and enter the AL number and or details. You can then compare contact numbers shown with the details you may have from the advert.

£22 million lost to rental fraud

Between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2018, 18,645 reports relating to rental fraud were made to Action Fraud in the UK. In the same period, victims reported losing £22,103,940 to rental fraud - an average of £1,396 per victim.
Action Fraud is now warning potential tenants, and students in particular, to spot the signs of rental fraud when searching for a property. For residents in Portugal who have children about to enter university in September please be aware of this.

Rental fraud happens when prospective tenants are tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property. In reality, the property does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time. Victims will lose the upfront fee they have paid and are not able to rent the property they thought they had secured. In 429 cases, victims reported losing £5,000 or more. 

Fraudsters will often make contact with their victims online. The adverts will seem genuine and are often accompanied by photos and contact information. In some cases the victim will view the property in person, but in most cases the payment is made without prior viewing. 

Action Fraud sees a spike in reporting levels in July and August. This yearly peak is likely due to people looking for holiday accommodation during the summer months, with holiday fraud accounting for approximately 27% of all rental fraud reports during this period.

Overseas News

Spanish National Police detail 12 people for sexual exploitation

The National Police detained twelve people in an operation against the sexual exploitation of women in hostess clubs in Cádiz, Córdoba and Sevilla.

On 9th July agents of the National Police have arrested twelve people and released four women in an operation against sexual exploitation in clubs in several Andalusian provinces. The dismantled organization controlled several hostess clubs in Cadiz, Cordoba and Seville where, in addition to trafficking in narcotic substances, women were coerced, threatened and assaulted. All the victims are of Romanian nationality and had been captured by the so-called Lover Boy method, typical of criminal organizations formed by members of that country.

The investigation began when the agents learned of a criminal network dedicated to the exploitation of Romanian women in several clubs in Andalusia. The police carried out several steps and detected possible victims of trafficking in human beings who were prostituted under coercion, threats and violence. 

The police carried out operations in buildings and clubs in the province of Seville (3) and Córdoba (2) in collaboration with the Labour Inspection.

After the operation, four people were arrested in Carmona and Ecija (Seville), all of them of Romanian nationality, for the crime of trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, threats and belonging to a criminal organization. Finally, eight more people were arrested in Córdoba (4) and Seville (4) for crimes related to prostitution and for their membership of that organization. I

How you can help - Donation for crime prevention in Portugal

Each week Safe Communities Portugal provides advice and assistance to those who have contacted the association. No charge is made for this service. If you have benefited from this then why not make a small donation in return. 


Safe Communities Portugal is a non-profit association run by unpaid volunteers. Our services are free of charge and the association is funded by donations. Your generosity by making a donation to help maintain and further develop the work of the association and thereby help keep portugal a safe place to live and visit would be appreciated. Any amount helps.  

Three ways to make a donation


Paypal - If you would like to make a donation through Paypal please visit our Welcome page and click on the "donate" button. 

By cheque - If you wish to donate by cheque the bank account name is "Associacao SCP Safe Communities Portugal" and cheques can be posted to Caixa 207-Z, Alfontes, Boliqueime, 8100-062, Algarve.

By interbank transfer - If you wish to donate through inter bank transfer please use the same name with the following account details NIB 0033 0000 4542 9864 44705. 

All donations should be marked "Donation for crime prevention". Thank you.

Safe Communities Portugal - Regular Features
Just a reminder that in addition to our website and Facebook page, Safe Communities Portugal produces regular crime prevention features to help the community. These are  in the Algarve Resident and the next one is out on 2nd August 2018.

We also have a 5 minute feature named "Crimecheck" on Sir Owen Gee's Solid Gold Sunday which is usually aired at 0915 hrs on the last Sunday of each month. Over the last few months with the kind agreement of Owen we have run additional features covering topical issues, such as missing persons, rural fire prevention and Eurovision song contest security. The next one is on  29th July June.  

How your friends can obtain up to date Crime Prevention advice
Please pass on details of Safe Communities Algarve to neighbours and friends so they to can benefit from the up to date crime prevention advice. Simply ask them to click on the following link to obtain the latest newsletter: www.safecommunitiesportugal.com This is a free service.



David Thomas

Safe Communities Portugal



12th July 2018