After a 15-month campaign costing 150,000 to persuade the residents of Marbella to keep their streets clean, the Town Hall has taken off the kid gloves and started fining litterbugs, god owners who do not clean up after their pets and people who leave their rubbish in the street outside the allotted hours of 9-11 pm. Since a plain-clothes policeman and a team of “tecnicos (experts)” began patrolling the streets on September 15th, they have handed out 84 fines ranging for €25 (for dog owners) to €600 for hotels and stores, for a total amount of more than €32,000. The biggest fine – €2,400 – is reserved for the owners of dogs belonging to dangerous breeds who do not wear muzzles when walking them in public. A Town Hall spokesman said dog owners are now becoming “more aware” since the fines started.
British police have launched another Operation Captura to track down criminals on the run on the Costa Blanca. In El Campello on the Costa Blanca, Crimestoppers are already putting up posters and handing out beer mats in a second drive to track down unwanted criminals thought to be hiding in Spain. A Crimestoppers’ spokesperson said: “We were blown away by the response to the first Operation Captura two years ago. The expats here really don’t want to have these people living among them and the beauty with Crimestoppers is that it’s totally anonymous so no one will ever know the tip-off came from them.” Of the 30 criminals featured in the first Operation Captura two years ago, 13 are now back in custody, including convicted killer James Hurley, who had been on the run for over a decade. Among the 10 faces on the new list are convicted paedophile Andrew Alderman, 49; drug dealer suspect Adam Hart, 29, on the run after escaping from police; Dean Rice, 47, wanted for kidnap and false imprisonment, and Anthony Kearney, 43, who is accused of extortion, perverting the course of justice and fraud. The full list can be found on the Crimestoppers website, with photographs of each of the wanted criminals and freephone numbers that can be called from both the UK and Spain. The list is prepared by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and those on it are subject to European Arrest Warrants. Introduced in 2004, these drastically reduce paperwork and make extradition a matter of weeks, not years. Bill Hughes, director of Soca, has a strong message for those on the run abroad: “These criminals seem to gravitate to warmer climes and think they can sit back and relax and enjoy their money. That’s not the case. We are determined to seize their assets and bring them back to face trial, or be returned to prison, in the proper way.” Information received will be forwarded to Spanish police, who will make the actual arrests. But Soca admits that criminals are already getting the message that Spain is no longer the sunshine sanctuary it once was. They are now turning their attention to other destinations, such as Dubai, to try to evade the ever-lengthening long arm of the law.
During a visit to Malaga last week, Irish Ambassador Peter Gunning Ms Audrey Fitzpatrick, the mother of Amy Fitzpatrick, who was last seen near her home in Calahonda on January 1st this year. The Irish Embassy has offered assistance in the case and there has been regular contact and cooperation between the Irish and Spanish authorities since Amy’s disappearance. Representatives of the Guardia Civil briefed the Ambassador, Ms. Audrey Fitzpatrick and her partner Mr Dave Mahon of everything done so far by the Spanish authorities solve the case.
The current economic crisis is making itself felt in all areas of life in Spain – including bullfighting. One of the country’s most famous breeders, Juan Pedro Domecq, told reporters last week that the number of bullfights per year will probably have to be reduced, because people will think twice before buying tickets. It’s good news for the anti-bullfighting campaigners but Sr Domecq said he and his fellow bull breeders were determined to keep the breed alive for the better times that he is sure lie ahead.
The so-called fast court hearings were introduced for crimes carrying jail sentences of under five years were introduced five years ago to reduce a back log of cases. That was the theory anyway. But in practice, these fast hearings can take up to three months instead of two weeks as was originally intended. One penal judge in Malaga said that more small courts and personnel were needed to make the scheme work. The average number of fast hearings a day is between 12 and 14 which does not keep up with the number of cases, which has doubled in the past year alone.
A study by the Andalucian Consumers in Action Federation (Facua) has shown that people can save up to 70% in dentist fees if they shop around first. As an example, Facua used oral hygiene treatments, which some dentists do for as little as €35 while others charge €60. Having a tooth pulled out costs between €50 and €80, although the health centres provide this service free. The Facua report, based on a survey of 116 dental clinics in the eight Andalucian capitals, found differences of up to €300 in the prices of some dental treatments.