I’ve been following you on Facebook and on your blog recently. The reason is: I’d like to move to Barcelona. I’m attracted to the city by the “Do It Barcelona” initiative.
At first glance, Barcelona is the perfect location for what I want: good climate, high quality of (urban) life, good connections. OK, there’s high unemployment, but I can be part of the solution to this problem, as I want to create a renewable energy start-up.
Basically, I’m the perfect example of the “immigrant” that Barcelona wants to attract: educated, innovative and ambitious. However, there’s one issue that’s bugging me: (street) crime.
Do I really want to put up with it? There are a number of places I could choose to live right now. Barcelona is a city difficult to match in many respects, but the high level of street crime is surely a constant stress, one that can effectively ruin the quality of life. To be constantly vigilant actually contradicts the very essence of relaxed life in a Mediterranean city. To talk about quality of life in combination with high crime rates is a contradiction in terms.
So, my first question is… how widespread is crime really? Is it only in some (touristic) places, or pretty much all over the place? Particularly problematic is the public transport, moreso because it’s so necessary.
The main problem Barcelona now has is the negative image it projects as being the world’s “street crime capital”, which has overshadowed the positive image Barcelona has worked so hard to generate over the years. I’ve spoken to talented people who don’t want to move there because of it. Almost everyone I mention my plan to has said: “yes, it’s a beautiful city, but what about the crime?” Almost everybody knows someone who got robbed there.
What is startling for me is how it’s almost always illegal immigrants (north African and recently Roma) who are responsible for the crime. Partly, that’s positive, because the Catalans and Spanish are not tarnished as nations. But, on the other hand, I don’t understand, how do they let a minority defile the image of their city? Are they not aware what’s at stake? It’s not just about tourism! It’s about economy in general. Less people and fewer companies will decide to do anything in Barcelona: be it starting a company, like me, or organising congresses and fairs.
In this time of crisis, the damage to the city’s image is something Barcelona can’t afford. It sounds absurd, but criminal activity can actually endanger recovery.
If inhabitants and tourists adapt their lifestyle to counter street crime, then you have a street crime dictatorship in place. Right now it seems the one to blame is he who carries money in his back-pocket or leaves an iPhone on a coffee table. That’s unacceptable. Why should the honest people adapt to criminals, why should the honest adapt to survive!?
I will see how things develop for me. Barcelona is still towards the top of my list, but I am not so sure anymore…