Police with an illegal seller of alcohol. | Alejandro Sepúlveda

Tourist excesses, illegal selling, drug dealing, tricksters, pickpocketing and mugging. For the police in Playa de Palma, this summer is like any other, although businesses and residents believe that the excesses are worse than ever. There is a familiar lament: "There is street drinking at all hours of the day and night. All of us who live around here know that alcohol is sold illegally. There aren't enough police."

The National Police have applied 'Operation Armour' in Playa de Palma. Over one hundred officers on the island have been reinforced by others from the mainland. A local businessman acknowledges the efforts, but points out that Palma Police don't have the resources to enforce municipal bylaws. "These aren't the job of the National Police."

Palma town hall accepts that there is a shortage of police. A representative of the former administration says that the pandemic hampered recruitment. The campaigns for recruiting new officers had to be put on hold. "In the last year we managed to increase numbers, but it is clear that the needs are different and that Playa de Palma requires more deployment during the tourism season."

Businesspeople and residents agree that the illegal sale of alcohol is one of the biggest problems. The proprietor of a pub in the Balneario 6 area says: "The supermarkets reckon that they stick to the hours, but everyone knows that this isn't the case. They do what they want and that encourages alcohol consumption in an uncontrolled way."

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A hotel employee points out that it is the most normal thing in the world that visitors want to have a good time. "That is basically good for everyone. The problem is what then happens on the streets."

The street drinking isn't just by small groups of people. Large gatherings can form at any time, the drink coming from tourist supermarkets where alcohol dominates the shelves. There are also the street sellers of beer and cocktails. The activity is totally illegal. The pub owner stresses that this escapes any form of health control. "Tourists don't know what they're drinking. It's very dangerous."

While there have been advances in tackling pickpockets and the so-called prostitutes (muggers in reality), this isn't the case with the illegal sale of alcohol and the large street drinking parties. Municipal ordinance is clear enough; the drinking of alcohol on the streets is prohibited, but the ban is ignored.

One resident says that the town hall takes in millions from taxes paid in Playa de Palma but that this doesn't result in the service which should be provided. "It's been clear for a long time that it is necessary to increase local police numbers. I don't know what we're waiting for."