Students help tourists to report crimes

A Spanish police car

English-speaking tourists who need to report crimes or other problems to police in one of Europe’s leading holiday destinations are being offered free translation help during the peak holiday season. David Ing has the details

The assistance in explaining and form-filling will come from language students enrolled at the Universitat de les Illes Baleares (UIB) as part of an extended collaboration agreement between the university, the regional government of the Balearic Islands, and Spain’s two main police forces, which both come under the national Interior Ministry.

The national government delegate for the Baleares region, Rosario Sánchez, said at a presentation on 1 April that some 25 students will be taking part in a significantly expanded scheme this year.

Their work on behalf of tourists will count towards their practical studies at the university and will not involve any payments, she added.

While the scheme has been hailed as a ‘pioneer’ in Spain, an Interior Ministry spokesman in Madrid was unable to say whether there are plans to extend it to other parts of the country, as each autonomous region operates independently.

In the Balearics, the police forces involved are those dealing directly with foreigners, the Policia Nacional and the paramilitary Guardia Civil.

A UIB spokeswoman confirmed that the number of students taking part in the scheme has grown from just 10 in 2017 to 25, and explained that they will be helping out at seven police stations on the island of Mallorca this summer.

The Rector of the UIB, Llorenç Huguet, said the students will offer assistance in presenting official reports to the police, as well as providing information on tracking cases via the internet.

“The agreement has a double goal,” he said. “On one hand it improves the attention given to tourists who are victims of crimes, and on the other it improves the training for students at the UIB, enabling them to put their learning into practice and preparing them for the labour market.”