THE TOURIST POLICEBy Humphrey Carter
THE first members of the Balearics' new Tourist Police force yesterday visited the British Consulate where Consul Mike Banham highlighted just how important their new jobs are going to be this summer. The first phase of the new force is 100-strong, 15 tourist policemen and women will be deployed to Ibiza and five to Minorca with the rest distributed throughout Majorca in all of the main tourist resorts. The long term aim is to have a 400-strong force, but this first unit has spent all winter training and learning English and is now ready for active duty. They have the same powers as members of the Local Police; for example they have the power to make arrests. The only difference is that, for this first year at least, they will not be armed, something the British Consul approves of. The British, while used to approaching policemen and women, are not used to armed police, he said. It is that close proximity the British have with the Bobby on the beat that he stressed to the new tourist police recruits. The British are accustomed to seeking out the nearest police officers for help and advice and they will look to you for the same kind of help, he said. You're going to be the new face of the Balearics and have a very important role. If you are approachable, helpful and efficient, tourists will go home happy and impressed, likely to return, but if their holiday is ruined by an unfortunate experience and they feel the local police and authorities were unhelpful, it's not good for the region's image, tourist industry and the economy. Both the Consul and Vice-Consul, Esteban Mas, gave the group a briefing about the many responsibilities and jobs the Consulate has and how its staff are looking forward to developing a close working relationship with the new Tourist Police force. Mike Banham said that he approves of the new force and has been offering his help and assistance all the way through their training. It's quite incredible how well the local security forces cope, not just with the three-and-a-half million Britons who come here every year, but the millions of other tourists and, of course, the demands of the foreign resident community, he said. But of course, any extra assistance is always going to be welcomed. Banham told the recruits that they may find themselves, at times, merely having to deal with tourists looking for a bank, the cathedral or even the British Consulate. On other occasions however, they might be confronted with a tourist who has lost all of his or her belongings, passport, money etc. In these cases it is very unnerving and worrying for the person concerned, who is also in a strange country. If you can efficiently deal with the problem while easing the holidaymaker's fears and worries then you're going to make all the difference to their holiday and their impression of the Balearics, he told them. We are here to help you help them, he said.
The next group of tourist police which has undergone basic Local Police training over the past few months, will be visiting the Consulate next week.
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