Rafael Nadal with members of the National Police on Friday evening. | Alejandro Sepúlveda

On Friday evening, the National Police in the Balearics celebrated the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, the force's patrons, at La Misericordia in Palma. A highlight of the event was the presentation of medals and distinctions, one of which went to Rafael Nadal, who received a police merit medal.

The chief of police, Gonzalo Espino, emphasised the work carried out during the pandemic, praising the role of the police in this "unique situation". The pandemic "changed the priorities of the police as a public service aimed at protecting the community and defending the legal system". Being on the front line, the National Police became "a high-risk group, which had to face a significant number of casualties and a considerable increase in workload". "With the sacrifice and effort of all, this difficult scenario was achieved and did not affect operational capacity."

Espino drew attention to the "essential" collaboration with the armed forces, the Guardia Civil and local police forces. He explained that they adopted new measures to combat certain crimes, "which in this context found it easier to go unnoticed, such as violence in the family, where the victims were confined with their aggressors and with little possibility of escape and practically without possibility of alerting anyone to their situation".

Border closures and mobility restrictions caused a type of criminality to grow "exponentially". This was already manifesting itself in other regions and then the islands also started to suffer. He referred specifically to "the illicit trafficking of immigrants, which is sometimes linked to human trafficking, one of the greatest scourges of the 21st century".

The continuous arrival of migrant boats has forced a resizing of the immigration units in order to "fight more effectively the criminal organizations that enrich themselves with this illegal practice". "People who pursue the objective of reaching Europe and a better life are victims."

The number of boats has increased a sense of insecurity among the public, so the National Police have adopted measures "that can have a considerable positive impact in terms of the daily work life of all of us who make up this institution as well as the trust of the citizens".

In all, 46 merit medals were awarded, predominantly to members of the force. Of the nine that were not, Rafael Nadal was joined, among others, by a lieutenant from the Guardia Civil's Seprona division (environmental protection and animal welfare).

Those attending included President Armengol and the national government's delegate in the Balearics, Aina Calvo.