The British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, was in Magalluf yesterday to assist at the presentation of the two British police officers currently on the Balearic beat.
Accompanied by the Consul General, Andrew Gwatkin, the Ambassador was full of praise for the Spanish and Majorcan authorities, the hoteliers, the community at large and, of course, PC Martina Anderson and Sgt. Brett Williams from the West Midlands police force who have been chosen for this pilot scheme because of their knowledge of Majorca and ability to speak Spanish.
As expected, the two-week long operation is being critcised, if not mocked, in the UK but yesterday, Manley, along with the Central Government Delegate to the Balearics, Teresa Palmer, and the Colonel-in-Chief of the Guardia Civil in the Balearics, Jaime Barcelo, said that the work the two officers are carrying out is extremely important.
“I’m delighted to see British police officers working alongside and supporting members of the Spanish Guardia Civil. The Balearics are among the most popular destinations in the world for young British holidaymakers, and we want to reduce the number who get into some kind of trouble and need consular assistance.
“This is a good way to influence British behaviour abroad and thus prevent problems, thereby reducing the burden on publicly-funded British Consulates. It should also strengthen relations between our police forces and those in the Balearics, as well as enhancing the UK’s standing in Spain as a whole,” the Ambassador said.
“Some three million British holidaymakers come to the Balearics every year and what we all want is for them to have fantastic time on this beautiful island,” he added.
The reason the officers are not on the beat at night is that not only is this a pilot scheme, they have no jurisdiction to respond to an incident.
“They’ve been to Majorca before and they know, we all know what happens in Magalluf at night," Colonel Barcelo said. “That’s not the objective of this operation,” he underlined.
The Embassy team was also keen to stress that the trial is being funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), with local hoteliers providing food and accommodation, and the Guardia Civil meeting on-island travel costs.
“We have to take everything in context. Like I said, some three million Britons come here on holiday to the Balearics and last year Britons were involved in some 1,800 incidents which required consular assistance. That could involve being hospitalised, arrested or losing a passport,” the Ambassador told the Bulletin after the presentation.
“1,800 out of three million is a minority, but as far as we are concerned, it’s 1,800 too many and this pilot scheme, the feedback we shall get at the end of the two weeks, is going to prove vital with regard to moving forwards with possible longer deployments next year.”