IN August last year, Colonel Francisco Javier Garcia Peña (Madrid, 1948), took command of the Guardia Civil in the Balearics. Here, he reviews his first 10 months on the island.
Q: With the arrival of Joan Mesquida as director general of the Guardia Civil come new times. Do you support the demilitarising of the Force or do you think it is enough to modify the disciplinary rules?
A: On a personal level I don't consider it necessary. The last four national Home Secretaries and the last four Director Generals of the Force have not seen the demilitarisation of the Guardia Civil as a priority. But I do support a change in the disciplinary rules. There needs to be discipline, whether people are civil or military, there is discipline in any private company.
The Guardia Civil's Judicial Police has hardly grown in the last 15 years and vacancies have not been filled. What's going on?
It is a difficult subject. We have now got an increase in staff and the vacancies will be filled. The problem is that Balearic staff are scarce, officers come from the Peninsula and, when they can, they go, because of the problems of being on an island, the high rents......
What can be done with the Eastern gangs which settle on the island?
They enter the island with the rest of the immigrants and then they stay, although they are not interested in staying here outside of the summer season and disappear.
Are a large number of reinforcements expected for this summer?
More reinforcements than last summer are expected. On one hand there will be a rise in staff and, on the other, more officers will come for “Operation Summer”. The two will coincide.
The state of many Guardia Civil stations is terrible. Are there any plans in hand to remedy this?
Certainly they are generally in a very bad state. Calvia is in the acceptance period and at the beginning of 2007 the construction of the new station will begin. It is the same in Inca, a new station is being built and will be ready after Christmas. Felanitx in now in the phase of project planning and construction will start in 2007.
Are unions necessary in the Guardia Civil?
I don't think they are necessary. Especially now that there is an advising council and any officer can go to them with their complaints or doubts. Also, the door to my office is always open to anyone. And because of this I don't think unions are necessary.
Collaboration with the National Police Force has improved a lot, but it doesn't appear to be so with the Local Police Force.
Both have improved, what has happened is that we have more of an affinity with the National Police. Investigations are similar for both forces and we need to stay united so that criminals don't see any demarcation between us. Our relationship with the National Police Force is marvellous and there are no problems with the Local Police. I speak daily to the head of the Police and we see each other a couple of times a week, we are close friends.
Is the appointment of Joan Mesquida as Director General good news for the Balearics?
Undoubtedly, because of his personal characteristics and because we speak the same language. We are in constant contact and he is very interested in the situation in the Balearics.
What can be done to stop the deaths on Balearic roads?
This is a subject which concerns me very much. There are many rented cars on the roads, an excess of drinkers, many roads where the two directions of traffic are still not separated, and it is necessary to educate motorists with campaigns.
Do you support motorways?
I think that there should be more motorways.
What are the main problems in the Balearics with regard to security?
Traffic and domestic violence. The latter is very difficult to prevent and I think it is not reported enough. Also, in some countries there is a different culture where abuse is accepted, and when they come here they don't adapt.