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Rafael Mora outside Vélez-Málaga town hall. Eugenio Cabezas
'Immediate' need for 40 more officers in Costa del Sol town says new police chief
Interview

'Immediate' need for 40 more officers in Costa del Sol town says new police chief

Rafael Mora Canizares moved to Vélez-Málaga from the Huelva force in April this year

Eugenio Cabezas

Wednesday, 15 May 2024, 16:21

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Rafael Mora Cañizares (Andújar, Jaén, 1962) is the new head of Local Police in Vélez-Málaga. Before then he was chief superintendent in Huelva and prior to that he spent 26 years with Marbella’s Local Police force for 26 years, seven of which were as Chief of Police, between 2009 and 2015. He has a degree in Law from the European University of Madrid and a diploma in Criminology from the University of Malaga.

- How are you tackling this challenge?

- I could retire now but I have decided to continue working until I am 65. I had decided to return home because my family lives in Marbella. This opportunity came up and I have known Vélez-Málaga since I was a child when I used to come with my parents to go for walks and to eat fried fish. It is a new professional challenge, to make the town better than it is.

- How have you found the Local Police?

- There are some great professionals on the staff, with a very high commitment to the job, the only problem we have is that we are short staffed. We need to incorporate more officers. The mayor has told me that this is an absolute priority, to make security as good as possible. The difficulty that Vélez-Málaga has is that, as in other municipalities on the Costa del Sol, we have numerous towns and a large population. This requires a sufficient number of agents. We also have important events every weekend, cultural, sporting... and that requires a lot of work from the Local Police.

- How many officers are there and what would be the ideal number?

- We have about 90 operational officers, but in total there are 115 and we are going to try to get to 125 or 130 officers. To ensure security in the municipality we need at least 40 more officers immediately. We have quite a few areas, so we need an effective police presence. It is true that for this we also have the full cooperation and commitment of the National Police.

- What joint actions are you carrying out?

- We are carrying out joint controls with both forces, we have joint operations and we are doing something similar with the Guardia Civil, although to a lesser extent because the National Police are in charge of the area. That is why we are in permanent, direct and daily contact.

- In the last few months there have been some waves of robberies in businesses and rural properties?

- There was a spike in burglaries in homes, shops and houses in Torre del Mar in the last few months of last year. The people who were involved were arrested and it is very normal to have these spikes if you have a criminal organisation operating in your area.

The crime statistics for Vélez-Málaga are quite good, and what we are working on is coordination with the other security forces, with defined action plans and more prevention.

- Are the crime figures increasing or is it an unjustified social alarm?

- Objectively the crime figures are similar to other municipalities of this size, but it is true that there has been an increase since the pandemic, at all levels, but the reality is that the statistics for Vélez-Málaga are quite good. The work of all the security forces is bearing fruit.

- The Town Hall has announced that they are going to install video surveillance cameras

- Both the commissioner and I have already spoken to the mayor, Jesús Lupiáñez, about this issue. We thought it was a magnificent idea and we gave him technical advice about the advantages of this system. Video surveillance is an integral security system which is just as useful for watching traffic as it is for preventing criminals in certain areas. It coordinates police actions, because we see in real time what is happening in the town and it helps us with the basic principle of prevention. This is done with the presence of officers but also with the cameras which would help us to see the districts and areas with the most crime, the most traffic jams or acts of vandalism.

- Has the location been decided yet?

- We are in the technical study phase, and this will be done according to the municipality's statistics and we will see which parts are most important and have the highest crime rates and which have the most traffic problems. It is fundamental in municipalities such as Vélez-Málaga with such a large population distribution: we have beaches, countryside, small, scattered villages, we have to see how we are going to implement it little by little. The town hall has endorsed its absolute support for this system and the mayor will announce more news shortly. I would like to see the first cameras installed this year.

- How are the material resources of the Local Police?

- Following the improvements in the headquarters we are now getting new vehicles, we are expecting twelve new ones in July. We are also replacing the motorbikes. But for us the most important thing is the human resources, because from the moment a town hall decides to start the process, it takes at least 18 months. Let's see if we can incorporate more personnel next year.

- How is the summer looking in terms of events?

- The Weekend Beach Festival is going to be shorter and without a camping area. Before that we have events throughout the month of May, every weekend. We are planning all the arrangements with the National Police, meeting daily with the commissioner and also with the Guardia Civil. Coordination between the different bodies is fundamental so that citizens feel safe. We are working on the beach plan and the implementation of services for fairs and festivals. It is a municipality with many activities and a very tough summer for the Local Police. People come to enjoy Velez-Malaga and what we have to do is to help solve their problems.

- You won't be able to take holidays, I suppose?

- Yes, the possibility of having holidays during these months is greatly reduced. We are always working with one third or two thirds away or present. This is also thanks to the commitment and sacrifice of the officers who are willing to sacrifice their days off to be able to attend so many events.

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