The police in the Madrid region are working under enormous pressure. Since October last year, officers have intervened at more than 4,000 illegal parties at the weekends alone, or an average of 350 parties per weekend.
Hundreds of young people in Madrid continue to ignore covid prevention measures. In mid-January alone, when storm Filomena hit Madrid, there were around 50 per weekend.
Official figures for illegal parties
According to official data, Madrid city police intervened in 418 illegal parties last weekend: 80 on Friday, 170 on Saturday and 168 on Sunday. The police also handed out 450 fines for ‘botellones’ – street parties – and 1,055 fines for breaking the curfew.
Under enormous pressure for almost a year
Poliec carried out checks in 250 municipalities and are doing what they can to uphold the restrictions. The municipal police have been working very hard for almost a year to ensure that the measures – either taken by the government during the first wave or by the autonomous community at a later stage – are observed. “These are the results”, says Inmaculada Sanz, who is responsible for security and enforcement in the municipality.
“We cannot do this alone”
Until last March, the local police carried out these actions. However, in the eyes of the municipality, the municipal police should also work on these issues. Covid restrictions are also imposed by the central government. “We understand that all law enforcement agencies, both municipal and government, must ensure that the rules are followed”. Hence the mayor of Madrid asked the government for help late last year: “We cannot do this alone”. Following this, José Manuel Franco, deputy of the regional government, admitted that his agents were ‘on standby’. He agreed to send them whenever the city council formally requested it.
Little progress to curb illegal parties
According to sources in the municipality, there are weekly meetings between the two police authorities about deployment and coordination. But nothing changed. However, last Friday, Franco promised to cooperate “actively and loyally” with the rest of the local and regional authorities and with all neighbourhood associations to curb illegal parties and gatherings.
Vision of regional government
Franco’s team maintains their officers “act on the streets and provide support when the local police need it”. In the past three months, the national police have carried out 18,000 security checks, checking 55,000 cars and identifying some 344,000 people. This past weekend, the national police arrested 15 people and issued 425 fines for illegal parties in the region. It also launched an investigation into a number of flats in the centre of the capital. According to neighbours, these flats are the scene for illegal gatherings every weekend.
Vision of the municipality of Madrid
Sanz’s team does not disclose the numbers, pointing out the number of illegal parties continues to increase. “The municipal police are doing everything they can to ensure that this ‘selfish and irresponsible behaviour that puts us all at risk’ stops,” according to Sanz. “Nothing will change for the coming weekend; just like at the beginning of the pandemic, they are looking at the situation and the available people,” says a spokesman for the municipal police.
The police attend, confirm on arrival that the party is illegal and look for the organiser. They proceed to clear the premises and report all visitors for one of the reasons given in the decree: violating the curfew, not keeping a distance, exceeding the number of people or not wearing a mask.