Francisco Darder with the mayor of Pollensa, Martí March. | Ajuntament de Pollença


If you have spent 24 years with the Calvia police force, having climbed to senior rank and been deputy inspector of the Night Unit, you might be forgiven for seeking quieter pastures. Where is Calvia's Night Unit most often required? Magalluf's Punta Ballena. While Magalluf is gradually ridding itself of a bad reputation, it remains very demanding in police terms. But even so, Francisco Darder doesn't anticipate that he'll be in for a quiet life.

Newly appointed as Pollensa's chief of police, he admits that there is much that he needs to get to know about the municipality. But in certain respects, he is already aware that Pollensa can at times be livelier than Calvia. There aren't big fiestas in Calvia. The Moors and Christians of Santa Ponsa are as big as they get, but they are no match for the Pollensa version. Nor are the fiestas in their entirety like those of La Patrona. Then there are other fiestas, such as Sant Antoni and all the rigmarole that is the pine climb.

The two municipalities are different but not so different in that they have their areas of rural and mountainous land and their diverse security needs. Calvia and Pollensa are almost identical when it comes to the land - 145 square kilometres versus 152, respectively. But there are more people in Calvia - around three times as many residents plus the tourists.

Chief Darder says that the scale of fiestas in Pollensa "is really very different from what I'm used to", but it was the possibility of a different challenge, a new project, that attracted him to apply when the vacancy was announced at the start of the year. Now in situ, it's a rapid learning curve. He's been out on patrols and getting to understand the routine day-to-day work as well as challenges.

One issue he was aware of prior to being appointed was the dog poisoning at Llenaire beach. He explains that investigations into this are being led by the Guardia Civil's Seprona division and that these investigations are being coordinated with the local police.

In this regard, Pollensa town hall has started the administrative procedures for obtaining authorisation to install video surveillance cameras. The town hall hopes that there will "soon" be these cameras but it is unable to give a date. It's not the first time that the town hall has sought permission. It did so when the first cases of dog poisoning were reported in 2013 and then again in 2015. The Spanish government's delegation in the Balearics felt that the measure would be "disproportionate".

Meanwhile, there are talks with residents about reopening the beach - it's been sealed off for several weeks - and about setting up a monitoring committee to define measures that need to be adopted. Chief Darder emphasises the important role the public have to play. If the police and the Guardia Civil aren't notified of incidents, they can't do anything about them.

A challenge he faces is one that all chiefs of police in Mallorca do - the lack of police. Three weeks ago, his counterpart in neighbouring Sa Pobla, Antoni Borràs, said there is a problem in all municipalities: "The bureaucracy of the selection process. It can take a year to enter our force." Sa Pobla is very much smaller than Pollensa in terms of land - 49 square kilometres - and has a population some 3,000 lower. There are currently fourteen officers in Sa Pobla, and Chief Borràs expects four more will be appointed this year.

In Pollensa, Chief Darder has some 40 officers, an indication of the physical size of the municipality and the much greater floating population. There would ideally be 50. As well as the selection process, a factor that affects police recruitment in smaller municipalities is that the larger ones can often entice officers with higher pay. In the long term, though, he says that there will be a study of how the force can be increased.