Saturday, May 3, 2014

Portugal: SINAPOL Plans to Release Pamphlets Saying Government Soft on Crime, Lots of Downsides

According to, police officers have threatened to take their dissatisfaction over a number of staffing cuts that are being made within the country’s security forces to tourists by handing out thousands of pamphlets at national airports and ports to warn unsuspecting visitors that the country’s internal security is being placed at risk by Portuguese governmental policies.

The unusual initiative was devised and unveiled by the National Police Union, SINAPOL, and was due to be introduced at the beginning of this month [May 2014].

The campaign will target tourists arriving at Portuguese airports and ports, such as Faro, Lisbon, Oporto and Funchal (Madeira). 

According to union spokesman Luís Paz, the leaflets will be produced in multiple languages. The unprecedented initiative is intended to emphasize how differently police are treated in Portugal when compared with officers in the home countries of foreign tourists.

A mock-up of what the pamphlet could look like was posted on SINAPOL’s Facebook page on Tuesday this week (April 30) and states in five languages--Portuguese, English, French, German and Spanish--“Welcome to Portugal…a country that does not respect its police officers.” 

COMMENT: In the interim, the country’s largest hospitality and catering association AHRESP has appealed to SINAPOL to cancel the pamphlets' release. 

In contrast to arguing against SINAPOL, it seems logical for AHRESP to meet promptly with the country's police leadership and negotiate a "win-win" mechanism for all sides concerned.

I'll be the first one to agree that having national stakeholders blaming each other does not bode well for public safety in Portugal, yet it seems critical that SINAPOL and the country's police hierarchy must meet asap to see if there is a compromise that all parties can live with. 

Left unchecked, the pamphlets' release once tourists arrive in Portugal could result in a black-lash that the government might never recover from, leaving all parties concerned irreparably ANGRY, destroying everyone associated with tourism.

In a statement, AHRESP said it understands that the officers are experiencing staffing constraints, but warned of the impact the action could have on the work and investment that has been poured into achieving Portugal’s image “as one of the safest destinations in the world.”

“We all know that the country’s situation is critical, and that many of the efforts that are being demanded of us are super-human, but we cannot jeopardize the recovery of our country or of tourism, which is recognized as a fundamental component in our economy," AHRESP explained.

In AHRESP's view, the distribution of pamphlets would “have a devastating effect” and the repercussions “would be incalculable” to the economy and to businesses within the sector which, according to AHRESP, have also been “punished by austerity.”