I need to clear something up, and the easiest way to do it is to quote a message I received this morning. This went:

There was a picture of some pickpockets on Facebook and they’re the same ones who robbed my friend last week, they got away with very little so he didn’t see the point in going to the police, but since then I’ve heard of an app or site where you can report this kind of activity without the hassle of actually filling in forms at the police station. Could you point me in the right direction for my friend as he believes police should be made aware so they can put extra resources in the right area?

There are several misunderstandings in this enquiry. First of all the app referred to is Fress, which is an Emergency 112 app that I posted about HERE this time last year. Since it’s an emergency application it cannot be used instead of denuncias. It is to report crimes in progress and as part of the app’s function, photos of the crime can be included. Like any emergency line, however, whether 112 throughout Europe or 999 in the UK, you can’t do it in retrospect.

After the event, crimes must be denounced. People often say to me that there’s no point in reporting “minor” thefts because the police “won’t do anything if it’s under €400”. It is usually said with an air of contempt for the police which implies they cannot be bothered, or are lazy. The problem is that the idea that “they won’t do anything” is a complete misunderstanding. As in the UK, crimes are treated as serious or minor in order to save and prioritise police time. If they did not do this police would be required to investigate thefts of as little as €1.

The line must be drawn somewhere and in respect of cash thefts, it has been drawn at €400. This is not, however, a line drawn for investigative purposes, but judicial ones. Police still record the crime and investigate, but under that amount the courts won’t be involved, so offenders are cautioned instead of being prosecuted. It is the same everywhere, including the UK, and although people might disagree with where the line is drawn, I would think that most people would prefer police time to be devoted to investigating and prosecuting serious crimes, rather than genuinely petty ones. But the police can’t do anything at all unless they know about offences, of any level.

Moreover, denuncias have a direct effect on a police presence in an area: the more denuncias, the more police, it’s that simple. And without going through the process of denouncing crimes, without accepting “the hassle of actually filling in forms” as the enquirer this morning put it, the police are unable to allocate the correct resources because on paper it appears that there is no need for them. The only way the need becomes evident is if they have reports. How can the public refuse “the hassle” of reporting a crime which they are complaining about and then slate the police for failing to act on something they cannot be aware of?

It is understandable if people don’t report crimes because they think they won’t be acted on, but I hope this explains that the €400 issue is not one of whether or not the police will act, but of whether they caution or prosecute the offender, and of allowing police and Court resources to be prioritised. Without denuncias, there will be no police presence. With denuncias, reports will be compiled and collated, and police presence will increase … even if, under €400, it is treated as a “petty crime” for judicial purposes. Anyone who is a victim of a crime that they consider a crime must also, surely, now consider it worth “the hassle” of denouncing it.

This article has 4 Comments

  1. Indeed so, but I think with just cash thefts, people are reluctant to claim on insurance anyway, assuming they have it, because of the problem of proof.

  2. It’s useful to know that denuncias can be made in English and other languages by telephone on 902 10 21 12. I think you have to go to the police station to sign it afterwards but it will all have been prepared in advance, drastically reducing the time and paperwork and eliminating the need for an interpreter for non-Spanish speakers. The requirement to attend and sign is certainly the case for denuncias submitted by internet but that may still be a preferred alternative to “filling in forms” at the police station. There is a link to this and details of the telephone service here: http://policia.es/denunweb/den_tel_es.html

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