From 17 August 2015 – for 1 week only – Officers Sergeant Brett Williams and PC Martina Anderson of West Midlands Police are about to become ‘famous’ on the streets of San Antonio as they patrol in 2 shifts, from 7am until 10pm, and assist local law enforcers in investigations where British holidaymakers are offenders or victims. The officers will wear full British uniform in what is being described as a ‘trial operation’.
The 2 British ‘Bobbies’ (who will have already done a week in Magaluf, Mallorca) will be accompanied by 2 specially designated Guardia Civil officers and will be housed in 4 separate hotels donated by the San Antonio hotel association.
It’s an interesting and brave initiative that has been funded and planned with help from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth office that will see British and Spanish law enforcers join together for the first time in Ibiza’s 2nd largest town that has a far from untarnished reputation.
The British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, said: “The presence of UK police officers will help to remind British holidaymakers of the importance of respecting local laws and customs, ensuring that everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday, free from trouble and crime.”
Andy Marshall for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Their presence will offer reassurance to both locals and UK citizens in areas that significantly increase in population during the busy summer holiday season and provide support to victims of crime during what can be a traumatic experience, especially when away from home.”
What will be interesting is the inevitable difference in approach from the Spanish and British officers on the streets to problems that can sometimes be controlled through clearer communication yet are often exacerbated by language and cultural barriers. It is hoped that the Spanish police might learn some techniques in quickly solving confrontations that just involve over zealous holiday makers.
In 2013 I accompanied a group of influential local San Antonio businessmen to Newcastle for an invited weekend and they were amazed how the local police force were high profile on the streets yet easily communicated with the party crowd often diffusing situations quickly and positively in the town centre adding to the atmosphere rather than taking away. Seeing that there are parts of San Antonio that have little or no police presence at crucial times of the day any help in this direction can only be positive.
San Antonio councillor Aida Alcaraz commented “This is a pilot project, we hope the ‘Bobbies’ take away a clear picture of the situation and return next year at the start of the season”.
Some parts of the British press have been critical calling it a ‘farce’ and a ‘paid holiday’ however only time will tell whether this is just a political PR exercise or a project that can grow and evolve into helping Ibiza and specifically San Antonio during the busy summer months.
Watch this space!