Last year, a raft of measures designed to improve general behaviour in Palma, and Playa de Palma in particular, drew a great deal of attention.
What is clear this summer is that these measures aren’t working. Palma’s councillor for public safety, Angélica Pastor, has acknowledged, for example, that both illegal selling and street drinking have increased, not decreased.
The Partido Popular, which introduced the measures, have attacked this deteriorating situation, but the head of the local police has himself criticised the former PP administration for not having anticipated the growth in tourist numbers this summer and for there being fewer number of police officers available to control them and to keep them safe. On Sunday, as evidence of this, there will be 25 officers on duty during the day in Playa de Palma and 15 overnight: in 2014 there were 27 and 16 respectively.
Pastor accepts that the police are “totally overwhelmed” and so the council is working towards employing a further dozen officers for the night shift, which is when the shortcomings with police cover are most apparent. Financial resources might, however, delay this recruitment.
Despite the apparent under-resourcing, Pastor says that measures are being taken to try and stamp out the street drinking “botellón” throughout the whole of Playa de Palma and not just between balnearios five and seven. This street drinking is typified, among tourists especially, by the sight of several people drinking from buckets of alcohol with long straws. As for illegal selling, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of hawkers. Local police no longer have powers to seize goods from these sellers as illegal hawking is now classified as a criminal offence for which the National Police have responsibility. Local police can apply “administrative sanctions”, i.e. fines, but in practice these prove to be all but useless as the sellers don’t have the wherewithal to pay them.
The council, meanwhile, is asking the national government delegation to the Balearics for ten plainclothes police in Playa de Palma. Only five such officers, according to the council, are operating there at present.