Recently it was announced that 'up to a dozen' British police officers will patrol the streets of Ibiza during the tourist season this summer, with the aim of solving the island's ever growing drug problem. Each year, UK dealers flock to the White Isle's infamous West End to peddle their goods to tourists. British cops will be paired with Spanish Guardia Civil patrols in San Antonio, aiming to crack down on these organised crime gangs and affiliated businesses.
Ibiza has been slammed year after year regarding the growing number of drug-related incidents. In 2011, 3,600 ecstasy pills, five kilos of MDMA and four kilos of cocaine were seized in a raid of the largest British drug trafficking gang on the island. Recent figures from the Foreign Office show a 68 per cent increase in the number of drug related arrests of British people in 2013/14 compared to the year before. Apparently, the problem is so bad that Spanish police just can't cope anymore. But is this really going to help?
Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for British police. They do a great job at keeping our streets safe. But I'm not entirely convinced this proposal is actually going to work (and it's not just me - with a recent poll on The Mirror online also showing a whopping 66 percent of people doubting that these measures will make any difference).
Firstly, they're only sending a dozen British officers. At the most. How can a handful of extra police make that much of an impact when we're talking about tackling organised drug smuggling cartels? Especially when the proposal is a short term scheme rather than an ongoing project. By the time they've settled in and got used to the constant parties and sleepless night, they'll be on a flight back home again wishing they could have stayed longer (just like all the tourists whose trip visit flies by far too quickly each year!) Who knows, maybe some of them will even make a trip or two to Space whilst they're out there.
On the flip side, will our force back home suffer? Just last year it was reported that staff shortages in Brighton meant unqualified detectives were investigating serious crimes. If our own house isn't in order, shouldn't issues at home be the number one priority? If we barely have enough officers to do the job here, it's worrying that we're sending even a handful abroad for the summer.
There's a perception that British police are softer than the Spanish, who have a reputation for tougher policing. Whether that's true or not is beside the point, we've all heard rumours. If troublemakers think they're more likely to get away with unruly behaviour when there's an English speaking officer to mediate, won't that encourage bad behaviour rather than preventing it? I'm all for people having a great time and letting loose but if that degenerates into fights, arrests or ending up in hospital, that's going too far. I'd much rather enjoy Together Week Ibiza without punch ups, police and trips to A&E to worry about!
If this was just about heightened security for both tourists and locals, the Guardia Civil could increase its numbers in San Antonio using staff from other areas of Ibiza. The British cops have vital intelligence on dealers bringing drugs in from the UK. Drugs gangs from Liverpool and Manchester are allegedly filling suitcases with designer drugs, catching a quick flight and flogging them to Ibiza tourists. It's a vicious cycle which, unfortunately, continues year after year. But if the UK police force knows who these gangs are and has intelligence on them, why can't they do something to prevent them boarding the plane?
I must admit I'm not 100% convinced by this strategy but it will be interesting to see how it plays out. The 'war on drugs' won't be solved in a season, certainly not one in Ibiza, and I think both the British police and the Guardia Civil have a lot of head banging to do beforehand. Metaphorically of course, not physically. At the very least I don't think they'll have a shortage of volunteers - if I was in the police I'd be first in line for a free trip out to the White Isle for the summer. If this plan goes ahead, maybe I should join the force... Officer Louisa reporting for duty.