A problem for the authorities is that some offenders are insolvent; fines aren't imposed. | Pere Morell

Problems in Playa de Palma have been a theme of the summer. Part of this resort area is subject to the provisions of the tourism of excesses law, but much of the excess isn't covered by this law. Anti-social behaviour is a municipal matter, Playa de Palma having been classified - for security purposes - as a zone of special tourist interest. In other words, there are specific policing measures designed to tackle this behaviour. These were in place well before the law was passed, a law which predominantly concerns itself with business activities.

Whatever the mechanism, law or bylaw, the hoteliers maintain that this has been the worst season ever in terms of security. Crime and anti-social behaviour have proliferated with apparent impunity, a reason being - so the hoteliers allege - the inaction of the relevant authorities.

The hoteliers hired a firm of private investigators. This firm compiled a report which itemised 514 violations over a twelve-hour period. Among these were the sale of alcohol outside permitted hours, street drinking, sex in public, fights, illegal parties on boats. However, the largest number of incidents - 308 - were for "illegal practices", drug dealing in particular.

It is claimed that situations have arisen where the police have requested the precautionary closure of some establishments for flagrant breaches of the tourism of excesses law. But there has not been any response to these requests.

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The vice-president of the Playa de Palma Hoteliers Association, José Antonio Fernández de Alarcón, says: "Strangely, these requests never prosper, so that gives a feeling of impunity to offenders. And it is increasing." The association has gathered "exhaustive documentary evidence" of what is happening in Playa de Palma. "However, no one has the slightest intention to act."

On drug dealing, it is said that there has been a shift from Magalluf to Playa de Palma, which may reflect the success of operations in Magalluf but a greater permissiveness in Playa de Palma. The investigators have also noted that many of the so-called prostitutes who were operating in Magalluf in June moved to Playa de Palma for the high summer. "If the gangs see that there is no action, more of them come to the area because they feel they won't be punished, "says Fernández.

He is inclined to give Palma town hall and the Council of Mallorca the benefit of the doubt because of political transition this summer. Even so, the fact is that the situation in Playa de Palma has existed for a long time; it has got worse this year.

Toni Mut, the hoteliers association lawyer, says that reports seem to come up against an administrative wall. For example, of four reports lodged with the Council of Mallorca for breaches of the sale of alcohol after 9.30pm, three were archived under the heading "terminated for other reasons". The fourth was archived after a few days. Several reports about illegal street selling lodged with the town hall were not addressed until a month later.

The authorities encounter their own difficulties. Offenders like the street sellers are insolvent, so no fine is imposed. For Fernández: "It seems that there is always someone who puts obstacles in place. But if real action is not taken now, the degradation of the area will destroy all the effort and investment that has been made in recent years."