Javier Martín, heads the Local Police force in Marbella. Josele
Police chief: 'Marbella is a safe town. It is the jewel in the crown and so becomes the target for negative comments to beat it down'

Police chief: 'Marbella is a safe town. It is the jewel in the crown and so becomes the target for negative comments to beat it down'

The Costa del Sol holiday resort has prepared for the summer influx of visitors with increased surveillance in the busiest areas, according to the head of the Local Police force, Javier Martín

Andrea Martínez


Friday, 21 July 2023, 16:23


Javier Martín, began his professional career 39 years ago in Marbella. Head of the Local Police since 2016, he has rolled out a form of 'proximity policing' (proactive, preventive policing that develops close ties with target neighbourhoods, community groups and/or at-risk groups). The model is intended to meet the needs of a large town like Marbella for the whole year, but especially for the summer season.

What's the current structure of the Local Police? How many officers are on active duty?

The listing of filled posts we have amounts to 395 officers plus 100 'vigilantes' [similar to special constables] who help us with the administrative side of policing. Right now we are fully staffed, but we are promoting entry level opportunities. One call-out for 23 new posts has already been covered. We also have another 14 posts on offer, then there'll be another 14 plus nine extra that have been approved for this year. With these last three recruitment rounds taking place, the core of the police force will be covered in a couple of years, bearing in mind that there will be some gaps due to retirement and internal promotions across the different ranks and job titles.

How many patrols are on the streets at any one time with this system?

We weigh up each and every shift based on the cover required. There are always more police officers on the morning and afternoon rotas than on night duty, since there's more activity in daylight. On a normal day, for the morning shift there may be around 20 active patrols with two police officers on each patrol. For the afternoon shift there'll be 15-18 patrols and 11 or 12 at night. We are talking about our usual shift patterns, for this summer we're strengthening cover where the influx of people is greatest such as the town centre of Marbella, Puerto Banús and all the promenades. The annual average number of police officers on any single day in Marbella is 185 officers, including police on the streets and back-office support. Throughout the year we receive 7,000 calls, which are handled by a radio control centre.

What's the most common type of call made to the police in Marbella?

In the mornings, most problems stem from traffic issues because, although the population doubles or triples in summer, the road capacity stays the same so that must be managed in the best possible way. In the afternoons, in addition to traffic issues, we deal with illegal street vending, preventing it from getting out of control, to guarantee the security of the legitimate traders. From noon the beaches start to fill up, so we have another potential group of people with safety and security needs, for which we receive support from Civil Protection and rescue teams. At night we focus on the areas where large crowds gather to counter thefts.

Is there any particular crime on the increase in recent years?

Most crimes tend to be those against property, such as theft or robbery, but these have not grown excessively. Marbella has faced an increase in population and the Local Police force has also had to increase numbers to serve more people. Thefts and robberies keep happening, and now there is a lot of computer fraud, something not seen much before. When talking about the crime rate in Marbella, this works on a fixed population of just 150,000 inhabitants, so the rate will always come out much higher than if you were to give the calculation based on the population that Marbella really has. One of the best ways to experience how safe it is here is to walk down the street and see the relaxed way people wander around. Marbella is a safe town.

Marbella has suffered crimes related to drug trafficking. What impact has this had?

This problem is a global issue. We see it first-hand because we are on the streets, but what we do know is that it has a much greater negative impact than the reality suggests. Marbella is the jewel in the crown and so becomes the target for negative comments to beat it down. Obviously these things happened, but much as in any other place.

How has Marbella evolved during your career in the police?

Marbella is way better than before, and still has a lot to give. The town council has evolved and with it the Local Police. Policing in 1984 has nothing to do with policing in 2023. We have an unbeatable video surveillance system, which helps us a lot in our daily work, extraordinary communications and an updated fleet of hybrid vehicles, even our uniforms are partly made of recycled materials. Marbella is living in extraordinary times.

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