An officer watches over a crime scene in a marbella street. sur
Every summer it’s the same. While the populations of towns along the Costa del Sol triple in size due to the influx of tourists, the National Police have to deal with the loss of a third of their staff, due to annual holidays.
In recent years the government has attempted to address the lack of numbers in the eight National Police stations of Malaga province. However it still remains a fact that the 3,300 staff who make up Malaga’s National Police force go on their summer holiday during the months of July, August and September. Effectively, in each of these months there are 1,000 fewer police going to work.
What is new this year is that, in their place, there will only be 26 trainee police officers, working alongside veterans. Last year there were 183.
Far fewer police recruits
This is a direct result of government cuts in public sector staff. This year only 366 police officers will graduate in the whole of Spain. Of these 86 are destined for Andalucía. Malaga province is going to get nine new police graduates in the city, nine in Marbella and eight in Fuengirola. All the province’s other police stations will stay as they are.
Police unions are, quite naturally, unhappy with the situation. “Compared to other years, almost all the forces now have adequate staffing levels. However what cannot be denied is the summer holiday problem. If a third of the police are away then clearly there won’t be enough people to cope with the large and disproportionate increase in numbers on the Costa del Sol”, complains the regional secretary of SUP (the unified police union) Manuel Expósito.
Expósito, in his role as a union leader, is urging those in charge of the National Police force to, “once and for all, deal with this problem which seriously affects the service that we provide to the public”. One of his own suggestions is an improvement in the incentives given to police officers who choose to take their holiday at another time apart from the busy summer months.
Jesús Carrasco, the provincial secretary of UFP (the federal police union), is less critical, pointing out that staffing levels in the National Police force have been increased in recent years and are now generally good. “While it’s true that there is a lack of officers over the summer, the problem is actually less serious than in previous years because there are more police officers. With the staff numbers we now have we are able to guarantee that the safety of citizens is not going to be compromised”, he insists. For his part, the secretary general of the east Andalusian CEP (the Spanish police federation), Juan Carlos Gil, draws attention to the cuts in numbers of new positions in the police force. “In four or five years’ time staffing levels are going to be insufficient once again because the amount of new positions won’t be enough to cover the vacancies left by retiring police officers”.
Tourists won’t be assisted by translators anymore
A month ago the head of the police officially dispensed with the translation service which has been offered to foreign tourists attending police stations. Now police officers will have to deal with people who can’t speak Spanish themselves, wherever possible.
As union leaders point out eight out of ten people working in police stations in Malaga province don’t speak English. This means that following the law which states that those under arrest should fully understand their supposed crimes is going to be very difficult.