On the alleged shortage of police officers at national airports, the minister countered that there are more police officers today than in 2019 and that this is "an objective fact".
The restructuring of Portugal’s immigration and borders service (SEF) will be concluded between the end of March and the first days of April, the minister of the interior said on Monday, while guaranteeing the presence of police officers at airports.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the departure of a National Republican Guard (GNR) mission to Italy to support the Italian authorities in controlling European borders, José Luís Carneiro said that the process is ongoing and that deadlines are being met and said that the restructuring of the body will be concluded “between the end of the month [of March] and the beginning of April”.
At that time “we will have the solution finalised,” the minister said.
He stressed, however, that “there may be a slight delay of a few days” because of measures that have to do with the legislative process.
“There are several areas here that have to be coordinated, (…) but fundamentally what we are saying is that the objectives we had of being able to establish a legislative framework in the coming weeks will be concluded,” he said.
On the alleged shortage of police officers at national airports, the minister countered that there are more police officers today than in 2019 and that this is “an objective fact”.
“We have more police officers in 2023 than we had in 2019,” the minister said, adding that in 2022 around 2,000 new members joined the Public Security Police (PSP) and the National Republican Guard.
He added that at airports there are currently around two hundred police officers, “who will be available as needed,” and stressed that thanks to the support of the police and SEF employees it was possible to reduce waiting times from around 1 hour 50 to 47 minutes.
The police professionals’ trade union association (ASPP/PSP) last week warned of the lack of police officers at PSP police stations at Lisbon and Porto airports as they were being “diverted to SEF”, a situation which is “compromising the service”.
Faced with the criticisms made against the government during the Portuguese Fire Brigade Congress, which took place over the weekend, the minister said he had already spoken this morning with the organisation’s leader and said that “as soon as possible” they will meet with a view to scheduling and prioritising the “measures that should be adopted”.
He recalled, in this regard, that the government has defined two “very clear commitments” for 2023, between strengthening the permanent intervention teams and the special device for fighting rural fires.
The GNR mission that left for Italy today, aboard the coastal patrol boat Bojador, is being carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) and will support the control of illegal migration flows and cross-border organised crime.
The minister said it was “a mission of great importance,” as it is part of the transformation of the integrated management of European borders, and noted that currently there are about 250 members of the Portuguese forces involved in international missions.