A Majorcan Experience, but what of Passport Control?

The recent news that the Magaluf Authorities are taking steps to bann booze from the streets of the resort is partially welcome but fails overall to grasp the real problems that exist in and around this resort. Throughout 2014, we have been made aware of 2 deaths, 2 rapes, 1 balcony injury, 29 assaults, numerous drug issues, mugging prostitutes, thefts from hotels, sex games, unauthorised video filming of holidaymakers in compromising situations, pickpockets, carnation gypsies, unauthorised and fraudulent use of holidaymakers credit cards and suspected kidnapping of young holidaymakers. At the heart of this information lies the fact that those committing these crimes range from the opportunistic through to organised criminal gangs.

In October 2014, we visited the island of Majorca and carried out our own investigation into the problems faced by holidaymakers, particularly those faced with a sudden or organised criminality. We carried out this investigation so that we could understand the extent of crime within holidays and how this affects its victims and those who work in the travel industry.

The reader should dispense completely with the raft of television expose's, which suggests that young Britons are seeking a brief hedonistic encounter without consequences; this is a lie - many young Britons find themselves living with the consequences of their experiences for many years after the end of the holiday.

You should remember that I bring a unique perspective to this examination, in that I am a retired police officer and understand only too well how crime can take root, unless there is a determined mind-set within the police service protecting a community, or indeed those tasked with protecting borders.

On 20 October 2014, I entered the island of Majorca after flying from the UK.

In an earlier film I made on arrival at Palma de Mallorca airport, I talk about how I witnessed a flurry of arriving and departing passengers within the terminal - there was no division between their passage and for the unseasoned traveller this could have presented its own challenges.

As I made my way through the airport, I thought that it was looking a little tired and some of the electronic walkways that could have eased the congestion were not operating.

As we progressed toward the 'salida' or exit, we were directed down a narrow corridor, packed with arriving holidaymakers. At the end of this section of the corridor, were 4 stations for border control. I could see that they were staffed but such was the congestion, the officers simply stood up and waved the people through.

No passports were checked; it did not matter if you were an EU Citizen or someone from outside the EU.

Once we passed through 'passport control', I saw no evidence of an active customs control and did not see anyone stopped as they claimed their baggage, but remember, we as air passengers are 'encouraged' to travel light, so many will pass through with the smallest of luggage.

OK, so some will say that you have already provided detail via the Air Passenger Information (API) you have to give the airline before departure, but:

  1. How do we know that this information is checked correctly;
  2. What category of passenger is screened, and
  3. Do such checks flag up any actual or suspicious criminal behaviour leaving aside any terrorist activity goals?

The lack of physical checking at a border suggests that good old fashioned policing has given way either to a complete electronic surveillance or a lack of investment and resource; is this the case on Majorca or indeed Spain?

As I was returning to the UK and exiting from Palma Airport, I travelled down a much wider corridor, clearly able to cope with the sudden influx of departing passengers at peak times.

As I was leaving there were 2 passengers in front of me and none behind me; not busy at all!

As the 2 passengers were in front of me some distance, I could see that the officers were just waving them through; as I approached the passport booth, the officer who was standing up inside, simply waved me through whilst talking to a colleague. He did not look at my passport - for all he knew, I could have been waving a fake passport in his direction!

So, I come back to crime in holiday resorts and I ask the following questions:

  1. How on earth can any country deal with a rising or developing crime scenario, if at its own border, it fails to carry out the basic checks?
  2. Do they really know who is coming into the country?
  3. What intelligence do they have about those repeatedly entering or leaving Majorca?
  4. Do they liaise with other EU Police or Interpol Services to compile data and information on suspected criminal activity?
  5. Do they know what arriving or departing passengers are actually bringing into or taking out of Majorca?

These are pressing questions and yes, Spain does have a challenging Border issue, but, if the Mayor of Calvia really wants to begin to tackle crime in the resort of Magaluf, then he should be asking some very difficult questions of the Border Police and the Guardia Civil, and difficult questions of those who import their criminal activity into this beautiful island!

Perhaps the Spanish Ministry of Tourism would like to begin a conversation with us?

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