Last week there was much coverage in the Spanish press regarding British police coming over to help patrol the streets of Benidorm – something that was witnessed in Magaluf last year. At a meeting held in Benidorm with business owners on February 25, the British Consul Sarah-Jane Morris was asked the question about this possibility.
The consuls visit to the resort was a follow up to the protest rally held in November – which was organsied by Karen Cowles, regarding the escalating security and safety issues here. Her response then was quite unequivocal saying “It is not possible and not going to happen despite the speculation. It is Spain’s responsibility to police their streets”.
Since this ‘speculation’ I asked the consul if there has been a change of direction or policy regarding the situation. Her response was as follows “I can confirm that no decision has been made to send British policemen to patrol the streets of Benidorm. Such a decision would require the British government to study the finer details of the costs involved in resourcing such an initiative and the remit of the police involved. Clearly the Spanish are keen for something like this to happen but they are slightly jumping the gun at this stage”.
In total, 700 officers are deployed in Benidorm, made up of two forces - the local and national police, which for a town with an official population of around 70,000 is considerable. This means that for every 100 people there is one police officer. By comparison Merseyside police force have 4520 officers covering a population of 1.38m – which includes the city of Liverpool, giving a ratio of one officer for every 305 head of population, three times that of Benidorm.
Unfortunately, Benidorm is still not officially recognized as ‘tourist town’ by central government and so misses out on additional funding, but better co-ordination between the two forces would improve the situation here. The security councilor Lorenzo Martinez has already stated that they are addressing the issue, by liaising more closely between the two forces to maintain a higher visible presence on the streets.
But out and about on a daily basis I notice the peamen are still out, scamming holidaymakers as per usual. It is very frustrating for us who actually live here as we know who they are and where they normally set up their pitches - why the police cannot just stand there is beyond most peoples comprehension.
Following Novembers rally Karen met with Lorenzo Martinez and was “very disappointed” with the response from the security councilor. ‘He insinuated that it was the fault of the British tourists and their behavior which fuelled the situation” regarding much of the crime and violence.
So with regards to British bobbies in Benidorm - probably only those on holiday here or dressed up ones for the British Fancy Dress Day! The situation remains the same but whether in the coming years it will change is anyone’s guess, the result of the upcoming referendum on June 23 may yet change the political landscape forever.