Police officers must get paid more and be better protected against assaults, the President of a Portuguese police union has said.
Speaking at EuroCOP’s Autumn Congress in Spain earlier this month, the President of SINAPOL, Armando Ferreira, said that recruiting new police officers was a huge challenge in Portugal.
He said: “We opened vacancies for nearly 1,000 police officers, and we only recruited 648 new members, because no one wants to become a police officer in Portugal at the moment. New recruits consider the salary to be too low, especially at the start of their career.
“When they start working in the police, all officers in Portugal have to go to Lisbon to work. Lisbon is a very expensive city to live in. The rents there are very high and police officers with the salary they receive do not have enough money to support themselves.
“So many of them decide to stay near their families, in their home towns, and work there, even if they receive a lower salary. Because at the end of the month they will have more money in their bank account than they will have being a police officer working in Lisbon.”
Armando said that SINAPOL was in discussions with the Portuguese Government to increase the police salary to make it a more attractive prospect for new recruits. He said he was expecting a rise of 12%, but that “it should be higher”.
One of the main issues discussed at the EuroCOP Congress was the increase in assaults on police officers across Europe, and Armando agreed that it was a problem in Portugal.
He said: “Six police officers are assaulted in Portugal every day. It’s a very difficult situation for us because we are bound by the law. Sometimes the laws make criminals attack police officers because they know that, for them, the consequence is nothing. So they don’t care.
“Police officers must restrain themselves because they can be fired from the police. Criminals don’t have that problem.
“There must be an increase in respect for police officers in Portugal. We represent the country. We represent the state as a political institution. So when a police officer is attacked by someone, the person is not only attacking an officer, he’s attacking the country, attacking the state.”
He added: “The laws around assaults on police officers must be changed. In Portugal, no one goes to jail for attacking a police officer. That’s a problem that we have. Only if they kill a police officer will they go to jail.”