Javea has a new Chief of the Policia Local, Jose Antonio Montfort, who is very keen to work in partnership with local groups to secure an efficient and effective police service. To that end the Javea Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) organised a meeting with the Chief of Police and the Councillor for Security, Juan Ortola, at the Casa de Cultura on Tuesday 17th September 2013. This followed on from a successful meeting arranged by NHW and Montgo residents association with Juan Antonio.
Also in attendance were a Guardia Civil Trafico officer, Sgt Manuel Varo who gave a presentation on drink drive and Tony Cabban, President and David Reeve Lead Co-ordinator representing the Javea NHW.
The meeting was attended by 37 NHW representatives from various urbanisations.
The first presentation was given by Chief Montfort with the aide of a slide presentation. He opened with a short history of the town, explaining that until relatively recent times Javea was a town of fishing and agriculture which in 1955 had 5 policemen to enforce the law in a population of 7130.
Now a tourist town, Javea has a population in the region of 33,000, of which 14,800 are from other parts of Europe. Apparently only 15% of the residents are under 18 whilst 25% of the occupants are over 65 years old.
In 2012 there were 306 reports to police per 1000 of population, and 10 to 12,000 reports/incidents in which the police were involved. A large proportion of these were accidents and medical emergencies such as collapses in the street.
There are now 78 local police, translating to 2.33 per thousand inhabitants. Between 2003 and 2009 there was an average of 44.1 crimes per 1000 pop. reported to police, a lot of these being burglaries or walk in thefts of property, often whilst people were occupying the premises.
There are four agencies responsible for policing, explained Jose Antonio, those being Policia Local, Guardia Civil, Regional and National Police. In Javea the Policia Local and the Guardia are the prime and most visible enforcement agents. In order to ensure co-ordination between the various police agencies the Mayor has a group which liaises with representatives of the police and they develop strategies that are then overseen by a committee to ensure that obligations are fulfilled.
The police aim for a fast response time to emergencies and therefore communication between the Guardia and Policia Local is important to prevent duplication. Jose Antonio stressed that they weren’t competing but co-operating together to ensure the best service for the public.
Important in the strategy are controls or road blocks as they are better known to us, 71 so far this year. These are effective in the control of crime; most criminals have vehicles and of course in the implementation of traffic and drink drive regulations.
Dealing with property crime the Chief explained that in 2009 there were 1,171 burglaries or theft from dwellings reported whereas in 2012 only 631 complaints were recorded.
In conclusion, Jose Antonio stated that in 2012 there were 22.76 incidents of reports to police per 1000 inhabitants whilst for the first 6 months of 2013 only 8.55 per 1000 and that the crime figures were heading in the right direction.
Chief Montfort then took questions from the floor and in the course of his answers highlighted the following points:-
Supermarkets are a focus for thieves both stealing inside and outside the supermarket, stealing bags from trolleys and cars etc.
The recession hadn’t given rise to the crime figures in this area although it did manifest itself by an increase in the number of people begging on the street and the large numbers of ‘white van’ people, mostly of Arab origin, who were patrolling the punto verde basura sites for metal and other resaleable items. He stressed that they had received no complaints about the activities of the basura men from the public.
One particularly nasty crime highlighted by Jose Antonio was of a couple getting married and whilst the family was at the ceremony their home was visited and stripped of valuables.
Crime in the Costa Brava has increased during the period of austerity but they have big cities including Barcelona so understandable.
In answer to a question concerning hunting in the proximity of housing it was explained that it is allowed up to 50 meters from dwellings. The hunting season proper started on 12th October although from 15th August until the end of August it was permissible to shoot at flocks of migrating birds. The responsibility for policing this activity rests with the Guardia Civil although the Policia Local will investigate complaints.
The Guardia Civil have a plain clothes unit who deal with drugs violations and they have succeeded in closing down drugs labs situated on the Montgo and in Tosalet and arresting the operators.
The next presentation was by Sergeant Manuel Varo of the Guardia Civil Trafico department based in Benidorm who are responsible for patrolling the whole area including Javea and Denia. He stated that of the deaths on Spanish Roads, half were due to the drinking of alcohol. The maximum level of alcohol allowed in a reading is 0.25% or 0.15% for the drivers of public service vehicles or with less that 2 years driving experience. This roughly translates into 3 canas or 1 Bacardi and coke.
He explained that alcohol increases reaction and reflex times and generally impairs our ability to drive safely. Research has shown that 80% of alcohol consumption is between Friday and Sunday nights and a study of 15 countries shows drink driving practises are similar with only 17% of people not driving at all after they have had a drink. The main cause of accidents were 41% speed, 30% alcohol and 25% being distracted e.g. mobile phones, children.
In 2012, in this area 800 were booked for drink drive and fined and points off their licence and of those 200 were taken to court. Between 0.25% and 0.60% reading attracts fine and points penalty and over 0.60% goes to court for more serious punishment. The trafico target drunk driving by the imposition of road blocks particularly between Friday to Sunday night.
Councillor Jaun Ortola then addressed the meeting reemphasizing that co-operation between the Guardia and Local police was helping reduce crime which was below the average for the province of Alicante despite the population increasing to 100,000 in the height of the summer during which time they tried to increase the amount of police on patrol.
He stated that his door was always open for persons wishing to ask questions of discuss problems and he thanked the Neighbourhood watch for its efforts in helping reduce crime and keeping people safe.
Councillor Ortola concluded by announcing that next summer a new SATE office, (Servicio. Atencion, for Touristas and Extranjeros) would be opened at the port tourist office manned by a guardia or policia local officer and a translator for the purpose of crime reporting and assistance generally. There would also be a telephone service. They are at present seeking funding from the Ministry of the Interior.
The meeting then finished with Tony Cabban thanking the participants.
NHW operates virtually in its entirety over the internet and for co-ordinators representing urbanisations, streets or even a group or society involves no more work than forwarding information via email of suspect vehicles, burglaries,crime trends and M.O’s etc. Large signs for the urb entrance or street entrances are available, as are smaller versions for houses. If you would like to join Neighbourhood watch can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.