By Humphrey Carter
DRUG-RELATED violent crime involving Britons is escalating in the Balearics and Monday morning's gun battle between two rival British drug gangs in Ibiza, which left three people injured including two innocent holidaymakers, has led the Spanish authorities to call on assistance from the British police.
Yesterday morning the British Consul to the Balearics, Paul Abrey, met the central government delegate Ramon Socias and regional police chiefs to discuss the situation and how best to launch a joint response.
According to Abrey an increase in drug related violent crime involving Britons has been noted in the Balearics and he believes closer co-operation between the Spanish and British police will prove effective in reducing the number of crimes committed during the busy summer holiday season.
To begin with, the British police will tip off the Guardia Civil in the Balearics about any British subjects with criminal records for drug trafficking and violence related crimes coming to the islands. Any such individuals will then be kept under surveillance and their activities monitored by the police for the duration of their stay.
Furthermore, Socias wants some of the police advisors based at the British Embassy in Madrid to be sent to the Balearics to help in cases involving known British criminals.
Abrey said that British police are to start working closely with the Spanish Home Office but neither he nor Socias would comment on exactly how many members of the British police force will be coming to the islands.
There will also be a more constant flow of information between the Spanish and British police and the British Consul said that he hopes these steps will lead to a reduction in crime.
Socias revealed that it is the close co-operation between the British and Spanish police forces which has already led to a number of important drugs seizures in both Majorca and Ibiza. “We are not prepared to allow Ibiza to become a new entry point for drugs being smuggled in from overseas. We're going to clean-up the island's ‘anything goes' image,” the central government delegate said.
Paul Abrey was keen to stress that “problematic” Britons are not attracted to the Balearics because it is considered an “easy” place to commit crime but because there are areas with a high density of fellow Britons “where it is easier for them to disappear.” While Monday's shooting in San Antonio appears to have forced the Spanish authorities' into taking action, the problem is not isolated to the popular Ibizan resort.
Socias said that the recent increase in violent crime in Magalluf, in particular in Calle Punta Ballena had also caused concern. Last month a 27-year-old Briton was seriously wounded when he was stabbed in the Calvia resort and there have been a number of other minor incidents.
However, Socias said that the drugs related incidents in Magalluf are by no means as serious or on a similar scale as those in Ibiza, although they very often involve violence and that is why there are seven Guardia Civil units on patrol in the resort every night.
TOURISM INDUSTRY
Abrey said that the British tourism industry is going to be fully briefed on the situation and the steps being taken by the British and Spanish police so that the tour operators can inform their clients who are coming on holiday to the Balearics.
How the British tourism industry will respond is one thing, how the travelling British public will respond is another, according to travel experts.
Only this year the Ibizan Tourist Board announced it was going to make a concerted effort to improve the island's image and revive the once thriving family holiday industry.
But San Antonio is famous for being a wild resort for young people, especially Britons.
It was made even more famous by a Sky One fly-on-the-wall documentary about the resort's night life and the activities and behaviour of young British holidaymakers in the resort in the 1990s.
However, never has Ibiza, or the Balearics, been rocked by a shoot-out between two rival drug gangs.

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