On March 13, the Círculo Ecuestre hosted a long-awaited colloquium in which they discussed whether Is Barcelona a safe city? The event featured top-level speakers, such as Marta Fernández, Commissioner and head of the Mossos d'Esquadra in Barcelona; María José Ortega, Commissioner of the National Police Corps of the Superior Police Headquarters of Catalonia; Pedro Velázquez, Chief Mayor of the Barcelona City Police and Lluís Sans, President of the Passeig de Gràcia Association.
Antonio Delgado, president of the Círculo Ecuestre, was in charge of welcoming the act and Enrique Lacalle, vice president of the institution, made the presentation, in which he thanked the attendance of the Inspector General of the Spanish Army, Manuel Busquier, of the Commissioner Head of the Mossos d'Esquadra, Eduard Sallent, and the deputy mayor for security at Barcelona City Council, Albert Batlle.
The speakers held a dialogue moderated by Mayka Navarro, an expert journalist on events from La Vanguardia.
"Barcelona, a safe city with challenges"
During her speech, the representative of the Mossos d'Esquadra Marta Fernández wanted to emphasize that “indisputably, Barcelona is a safe city. 49% of reported crimes are thefts. 80% of crimes are against property. In 2022 there were 11 homicides, 40% less than in 2019. These figures show us that it is a city in which most crimes are of low intensity”. In turn, she highlighted the "14% reduction in crime, between 2019 and 2022" and that "Barcelona is the city that has reduced the most crime compared to other cities in the state." Given these figures, the Mossos d'Esquadra spokeswoman stated that "a higher figure can be received if we let ourselves be carried away by images or messages", so "we have to send a reassuring message that we use all our means to make it a safe city.”
The Chief Mayor of the Urban Guard of Barcelona, Pedro Velázquez, corroborated the opinion of the Mossa d'Esquadra, but wanted to go further specifying that "security in a city is a very broad concept" and that "Barcelona is a city secure with significant security challenges and challenges.” “We work with data, but security is increasingly subjective and perception is becoming more important.”
Velázquez declared that “Barcelona has a serious problem of multiple recidivism”: “There are people whose modus vivendi is committing crimes. There is a problem with drug trafficking, which is a problem from the police point of view, because it generates a pull effect”.
The head of the Urban Guard wanted to make self-criticism and advocated "reflecting on the strategy." "We must make criminal charges work, direct our work towards good conflict management and provide more tools." He also called for generating a "closer and more capillary communication between police forces and citizens."
For her part, María José Ortega, Commissioner of the National Police Force of the Superior Police Headquarters of Catalonia, wanted to make clear the work of the force in the autonomous community: "The National Police has been working for many years to make Barcelona a safe city . We act in coordination with other bodies, but also in all investigative work with problems of terrorism, falsehoods, human trafficking, etc." The National Police stressed the role in immigration matters that the body carries out with multiple repeat offenders.
The President of the Passeig de Gràcia Association, Lluís Sans, assured that “crime has decreased by almost 50% on Barcelona's golden mile”. However, he acted as a lawyer for businesses and citizens in the framework of the debate: "There are no major crimes in Barcelona, but we have a major problem of theft and robbery with violence." The owner of the luxury boutique Santa Eulàlia stated that "only 9% of criminals who are caught red-handed go into pretrial detention", alleging that "91% go to the streets immediately and on average it takes 12 months to judge them". "When the summons for trial arrives, it is outside of Spain, because crime is international and moves", he lamented.
New strategies and police commitment
During the colloquium, the attendees reproached the speakers that the waiting time at the police station is too long and that, sometimes, filing a complaint is a tedious process. Faced with criticism, the representative of the Mossos assured that they are working "so that the waiting time at the police station is as short as possible" and the representative of the Urban Guard added that "the local police are working in collaboration with the Mossos d'Esquadra so that the Urban Police can collect complaints that are outside its powers, as is being done with crimes of gender violence."
The event became a great police loudspeaker for the citizens of Barcelona in which the speakers confirmed their "absolute commitment to fight against all events that affect society" and to "respond to the fear that is generated and perceives”.