Drunken British tourists are at it again. Semi-naked revellers falling out of clubs in the early hours of the morning, fights in the street and sex on the beach are ensuring that Ibiza has become the posting hell to avoid for Spanish police officers.
If the job of keeping a lid on the bad behaviour of the 750,000 Britons who visit the White Island was at least well-paid it might be worth the effort, but officers claim that their salaries do not even cover local rent.
The annual invasion of British rowdy hen parties and boisterous stag weekends stretches Ibiza’s blue line to breaking point because fewer officers will accept work there. British tourists who go there are normally inclined to go wild and cause such disruption to acceptable behaviour that scares off most of Ibiza’s policemen who are surviving on a monthly wage of between €1,600 and €1,700, equivalent of sterling £1,362 and £1,447.
Jose Manual Mariscal de Gante, head of the local police, said: ‘It is not worth anyone coming here because they have to spend all the wages on accommodation.’
The situation has got so bad that Juan Ignacio Zoido, the interior minister, has acknowledged that the shortage is a priority problem
With tourists concerned about terrorism in places such as Turkey and Tunisia, Spain is enjoying an increase in the number of people who visit. The Spanish economy is only now emerging from the downturn after the debt crises at the turn of the decade and few are going to argue that the island needs fewer visitors.
What would be an ideal posting on an island with a generally low crime rate, plenty of sunshine and a sprinkling of celebrity glamour in the form of regular visitors such as Kate Moss and Paris Hilton, has proved the job from hell.
There are only 241 police officers on Ibiza out of a recommended headcount of 287 and that is based on 2007 figures. Since then the population of the island has risen from 100,000 to more than 150,000.
Carlos Munoz, of the Alternative Police Union, said that officers who moved to Ibiza received a supplement of €218 per month on top of their regular salary. He pointed out that those transferring to the Canary Islands got an extra €461.
Some Balearic hotspots such as Magaluf have gone for fewer but richer tourists in an attempt to ease the pressure on the local police. Benidorm on the mainland had applied to become a UNESCO world heritage site in the hope of attracting richer visitors who, it’s claimed, are less likely to spend the time getting drunk in clubs and bars.
Last summer 76 Britons were arrested in Ibiza for a variety of offences and 594 UK citizens were granted emergency travel documents and 258 were offered other types of help by the British Council, according to officials. Nearly 17 million Britons visited Spain last year and the Balearic Islands were among the most popular destinations. The Association of British Travel Agents says that booking to Ibiza, Majorca and Minorca are up by 7% on last year.
Clearly the answer is plain to see. British tourists must behave in a distinguished manner when on holiday. A bad reputation is not something we should engender. On the contrary, Great Britain should lead the world in exemplary behaviour and extinguish hooliganism from its ranks.