Municipal Police help STCP drivers defend themselves against attacks on buses

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There are no statistics, but Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (STCP) drivers are sometimes the target of attempted aggression on the part of users, mainly verbal, but also involving physical contact. In an unprecedented initiative in the country, the Municipal Police (MP) and the transport company have decided to go ahead with a self-defence course for bus drivers.

Because they are so often 'in a fragile position', even though, for example, the acrylic that divides the driver's compartment from the passenger entrance, which has remained in place since the pandemic, is an important protective and deterrent element, drivers are 'provoked'. The purpose of the training is to provide them with self-defence tools, as well as knowledge of the legislation in force and the laws on the subject in the Penal Code.

'We want to equip them with self-defence tools. These are teams that are on the streets 24 hours a day, 365 days a year', the chairwoman of STCP's board of directors reminds us.

In Cristina Pimentel's opinion, this is therefore 'a fundamental partnership to give our crew some skills'. 'We're having a few incidents. Nothing special or worrying at the moment', but it is essential that 'they know how to react and act in more or less complex situations', she emphasises, adding: 'Any training we can give is an added value, in an attempt to give our crew more comfort and rigour'.

The importance of cameras inside buses

Even though the Municipal Police are a regular presence on some STCP lines, it's enough for drivers to use simple self-defence gestures as a way of dealing with altercations inside the buses that directly affect them. Even simple positioning can be crucial as evidence in legal disputes, as the buses are equipped with cameras. 'A device of great importance that must never be overlooked', said MP commander, Superintendent Leitão da Silva, at the start of the training session.

The Municipal Police emphasises the unprecedented nature of the training. 'It's not done anywhere else', commissioner Carina Pires says. That's why, she says, 'it's important for us to give drivers some instruments and tools to ensure their safety in more serious or violent situations'.

'It's very important for us to be able to help STCP growingly improve the service it provides, from the point of view of the safety of drivers themselves, who have to deal with stressful situations on a daily basis', the chief of the MP Police Division adds.