Portugal: Police to prioritise lockdown monitoring, use soon-to-retire officers

Portugal’s main urban police force, the PSP, has decided to make monitoring the observance of measures imposed under the current state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic its absolute priority, and is considering drawing on officers in the pre-retirement phase to help with the task.

An order from the PSP’s national directorate, headed by Manuel Magina da Silva, that Lusa has seen determines that priority be given to “action to monitor compliance with restrictions imposed” under the state of emergency over other incidents that do not endanger the physical integrity or life of people and that “all skills” of police should be used.

To fulfill this objective, the order also stipulates that police officers who are in the pre-retirement phase should be told that they may be called upon to provide service at this critical stage.

In this phase of a serious pandemic crisis, and in order to strengthen police visibility, it was also decided to bring into operational activity officers who are currently working in administrative services, so that enough inspection teams can be created.

Exceptions to the order include officers who support the national directorate, members of the Special Police Unit (UEP) and the force’s educational establishments and social services. 

After an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Monday at which the government approved moves to tighten restrictions under a lockdown introduced last Friday, the prime minister, António Costa, said this meant police must be more visible on the streets and that they step up their surveillance action.

“Of the security forces, and especially the PSP, it was determined that they have greater visibility on public streets, particularly in the vicinity of schools, so as to be a deterrent to prevent gatherings that are a threat to public health,” Costa said at a briefing after the meeting.

In Portugal there have been 9,465 deaths associated with Covid-19 out of 581,605 confirmed cases of infection with the novel coronavirus that causes it, according to latest recent bulletin of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

Worldwide, the pandemic has claimed at least 2,058,226 lives out of more than 96.1 million infections.