Crime Rates in Portugal: Is Portugal Safe?

Written By Lara Silva

Is Portugal Safe?

In May of 2022, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said that “Portugal remains one of the safest countries in the world.” He highlighted how this is ” essential for an environment that attracts investment, promoting the growth and progress of our country.”

The Prime Minister congratulated law enforcement professionals for their dedication, “24 hours of the day, every day of the year”.

Portugal is a safe country for travel, as well as for living. If you are looking for a safe haven in Europe, Portugal could be your next home. Violent crime is quite rare, and it is safe to travel alone in most places. 

Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Paulo Evangelista (Unsplash)

Global Peace Index: Portugal

Portugal takes 6th place in the Global Peace Index (out of 163) with an overall score of 1.300 (out of 5). The lower the score, the better. 

The Global Peace Index is the world’s leading measure of peacefulness, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It looks at three main domains: the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization.

Here are some of the scores provided by the Global Peace Index about Portugal:

  • Security officers & police 3.258/5
  • Homicides 1.455/5
  • Jailed population 1.894/5
  • Access to weapons 1/5
  • Organized conflict (internal) 1/5
  • Violent crime 1/5
  • Political terror 1.5/5
  • Terrorist activity 1/5
  • Deaths from conflict (internal) 1/5
  • Safety & Security 1.533/5
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez (Unsplash)

Safety & Crime Rates in Portugal

Crime rates only include reported crimes, so keep that in mind, of course. The latest Annual Internal Security Report (RASI) in Portugal reports that there were 401,394 crimes reported in Portugal. There were 11,614 violent and serious crimes.

Overall crime increased by 0.9% in 2021 compared to the year before. However, violent and serious crime decreased by 6.9%.

Both general, violent and serious crime recorded values lower than before the pandemic in 2019.

Crimes against property represent over 50% of crimes reported to security forces and services. Theft crimes have been decreasing over the years, representing around 26% of total participation in 2021.

Domestic violence remains one of the most reported crimes, with 26,520 complaints. 

Violent Crime in Portugal

The Global Peace Index ranked Portugal 1/5 concerning violent crime, which is low. The RASI reports that of all violent crimes in Portugal in 2021, there were only 85 cases of voluntary manslaughter.

There were 397 cases of rape, 828 cases of sexual abuse of children, and 1,494 cases of crimes against cultural identity and personal integrity.

The districts of Lisbon (4,619), Porto (1,886), Setubal (1,234), Faro (707), and Braga (469) have the highest number of violent and serious crimes. 

However, violent crime dropped in Setubal (-22.5%), Lisbon (-6.9%), Faro (-16.9%), Aveiro (-12.5%), and Coimbra (-17.6%). Sadly, it did increase in Santarem (+18%), Porto (+1.7%), the Azores (14.6%), and Viana do Castelo (+34.2%).

Robberies in Portugal

Violent crime and robberies are heavily connected in Portugal. Robbery is responsible for 68% of the violence and serious crime recorded. However, some crimes of robbery decreased in 2021. This includes robbery by snatching (-20.9%), robbery on public roads (-8.3%), and residential robberies (-22.5%).

There were over 8,000 incidents of burglary and house theft in 2021. 

Crimes Against Property

There were a total of 108,474 crimes against property, the largest crime reported in Portugal in 2021. Of this type of crime, these had the largest reports:

  • Theft of motor vehicle 7,485
  • Theft of nonprecious metals 2,430
  • Theft in a motor vehicle
  • Bulgary and house theft 8,420
  • Bulgary and theft in commercial/industrial buildings 5,875
  • Pickpocketing 3,550
  • Theft of opportunity/unattended object 7,067
  • Purse snatching 1,745
A car in Porto, Portugal. Theft of motor vehicle is the most common crime against property in Portugal. Photo by Leandro Silva (Unsplash)

Drug Trafficking & Crime in Portugal

There were 5,091 crimes related to drugs in 2021 in Portugal. Of these, 197 were cultivation for drug use, and 4,244 were drug trafficking. Portugal has a relatively low drug crime rate in comparison to other countries. 

This can be attributed to Portugal’s decriminalization model. On July 1, 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize all drugs, including meth and heroin.

The law made drug possession for personal use legally prohibited, while drug trafficking remains a criminal offense. Therefore, drug users will often not get arrested. 

Portugal also has some of the lowest drug usage rates in the European Union (EU), where most countries hold criminalization models. 

However, this does not mean drugs are legal. In Portugal, possession is decriminalized in particular amounts for personal use, depending on the substance in question. 

Portugal Drug Laws under Decriminalization: Are Drugs Legal in Portugal?

Domestic Violence in Portugal

Domestic violence remains one of the most reported crimes, with 26,520 complaints in 2021. In Portugal, domestic violence is a public crime, meaning anyone can report it without the victim’s consent. 

Moreover, domestic abuse encompasses any behavior that inflicts suffering, with or without intent, such as physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and verbal abuse, as well as social isolation.

In 2021, there were 22,524 incidents of domestic violence against a spouse, 639 incidents of domestic violence against minors, and 3,357 other domestic violence cases.

If you are at risk of domestic abuse, contact the Portuguese Victim Support APAV at +351 116 006 for legal advice, as well as psychological support. For emergencies, call 112.

Photo by Sydney Sims (Unsplash)

Women’s Rights in Portugal

What places have the most crime in Portugal?

The RASI found that the places with the highest number of reported crimes are Lisbon (72,183), Porto (47,552), Setúbal (28,679), Faro (20,788), and Braga (18,419). 

The places with the lowest crime reports are  Portalegre (3,058), Bragança (3,140), Guarda (3,462), Évora (3,595), and Beja (4,321). 

Overall crime increased the most in 2021 in Lisbon (+3.1%), the Azores (+7.9%), Beja (+14.9),  Setubal (1.5%), and Castelo Branco (+7.1%).

Contrastingly, overall crime decreased the most in Porto (-5.8%), Madeira (-7, 9%), Coimbra (-4.8%), Braga (-2.3%) and Portalegre (-8.5%).

Do people feel safe in Portugal?

Numbeo collects data from over 1,500 people living in Portugal about whether they feel safe in Portugal and the crimes they have encountered. They report the level of crime to be below, although most answered “moderate” to crime increasing in the past three years.

Worries about home burglary, being robbed, attacked, insulted, and more is low. Violent crimes also ranked low. However, most answered “moderate” to a problem with corruption and bribery in Portugal.

Most people feel very safe walking alone during daylight, ranking this “very high.” People also feel safe walking around alone at night, but only ranked this “high.” 

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