The vice president of the neighbourhood association of Casc Antic, Maria Mas, does not want so many police dedicated to stopping street crime in her neighbourhood.
She claims that there are no more violent robberies in her area than in other areas of Barcelona and therefore, the area doesn’t deserve special attention.
Casc Antic covers the areas of Santa Caterina and La Ribera of Barcelona. It is the same area where “Robbed in Barcelona” showed that Ieva witnessed on August 8th a 90 year old woman having her braclet stolen; where this couple had their bag stolen on July 28th (right in front of the aforementioned neighbourhood association’s headquarters!!); where Jo told us on July 16th that she was punched in the arm until she let go her camera; where Sanjay informed us on June 13th about his laptop being stolen; where Shelley wrote to us about having a chain ripped from her neck on June 3rd; where Cherry on May 4th told us about her mobile phone being robbed; where Justyna wrote to us about her camera being grabbed from her hands on April 12th and many, many, many more incidents we could point to.
Maria Mas believes that the increased police presence scares away tourists, and results in less customers for local businesses.
The police for their part say they are responding to a 37% increase in muggings in the area between January and May 2012 and that since the implementation of their police operation, there has been a noticable decrease in crime in the area.
On May 18th, a major police operation involving 70 agents from the Mossos d’Esquadra, Guardia Urbana and Cuerpo Nacional de Policía stopped and identified 152 individuals, of whom some had up to 40 previous encounters with the police each. La Vanguardia has a video of it here.
Mas responded by issuing a statement (in Catalan) – in conjunction with 18 other social groups – deploring the police action and calling it racist as it targetting two particular demographics, Dominican and Maghrebi. The statement notes that the signatories believe that such police operations are “ineffective in solving the security problems that exist in the neighbourhood.”
Mas was interviewed by Enrique Figueredo, for an August 1st article for La Vanguardia, which inspired the above article, and which can be read here (in Spanish).
[Thanks to Stuart for pointing us in the direction of the article.]