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Bobbies on the beach won't change Magaluf

Fiona Govan · 14 Aug 2015, 17:54

Published: 14 Aug 2015 17:54 GMT+02:00

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A scheme to send British police officers to patrol the streets of two of Spain’s most notorious resorts in a bid to control the worst of British holiday behaviour may have sounded like a good idea on paper.

Locals have had enough of drunken misbehaving tourists giving the island a bad name, to say nothing of the authorities who find their police forces and health service overstretched clearing up the aftermath of a night on the tiles.

Local authorities in Calvia, the council responsible for Magaluf, have done their best to curb excessive behaviour introducing a raft of bylaws to clean up the resort, imposing fines on street drinking, inappropriate sexual behaviour, and that unfathomable of crazes, throwing oneself off a balcony.

A typical night out in Magaluf. Photo: AFP

The resort hopes one day to shed its nickname of 'shagaluf' and instead welcome wholesome family fun.

And inviting a British police team to come and patrol the streets alongside their Spanish counterparts to see exactly what sort of strife their holidaymaking compatriots cause was all part of plan.    

Enter Sergeant Brett Williams and PC Martina Anderson of West Midlands Police, who flew out to Mallorca to brave the unforgiving Spanish sun in uniforms more suited to drizzly Blighty.

It all began positively on Monday with plenty of media hype about British bobbies on the beat. But as it emerged that they would only be patrolling during the subdued daylight hours, when most revelers were sleeping off the excesses of their nighttime antics, the criticism was quick to flow.

The British tabloid press wasted no time in seizing on an opportunity to highlight domestic policing failures linking unsolved burglaries across Britain to the pair of officers having a jolly time in the sun.

Even if we do presume that the West Midlands sent two of their finest to work alongside the Guardia Civil, burdening just two police officers with all the unsolved crimes in Britain seems rather unfair.

That they then fell under criticism for 'complaining about the heat', 'posing for selfies', 'taking a dip in the hotel pool' and finally 'getting sozzled' after PC Anderson naively posted an update on facebook - only for it to appear on the Daily Mail - stating "if you can’t beat them, join them" seems particularly harsh. Wouldn't we all do the same?

But what have they actually achieved?

Well they obviously weren't going to solve Magaluf's problems overnight, Lets face it last year the British Consulate in Mallorca dealt with 182 detentions of British nationals and in the same period 131 British citizens were hospitalised in Mallorca.

But let hope that, like all the best sort of policing, valuable work has been carried out hidden from the scrutiny of public eye. 

 "We need to work with the hoteliers, we need to work with the bar owners, we need to work with the Guardia Civil so a lot of the work we need to do to try to influence the night time economy or even to try to prevent a lot of the crime is done speaking to these people," explained Sergeant Williams to the BBC.

It isn’t the first operation of its kind in Spain. Visiting police from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Morocco have taken part in similar initiatives and probably didn’t make headlines doing so.

Story continues below…

It’s true these two British bobbies only worked eight hour shifts and in daylight hours but with no powers of arrest anyway, this pair could hardly be expected to solve Magaluf’s problems in just a week.

At the very least it has been an exercise to win over hearts and minds in the resort, an opportunity to show solidarity with their Spanish colleagues and hopefully a chance to establish lasting links between forces.

Above all their visit has served to highlight that the sort of outrageous and sometimes criminal behaviour that has become synonymous with Magaluf is not being tolerated, by the Spanish authorities or the British.

After walking the mean streets of Punta Ballena in a high visibility jacket while running the gauntlet of selfie-seeking enibriated tourists, well, could you really deny them a swim and a cold beer at the end of it?

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

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