Sad post about danger on tourist promenades

I’ve thought quite hard about posting this, and nearly didn’t, but it seems to me that most people would rather know and be prepared, than be kept in happy ignorance. The simple fact is that there is an increasing problem with homelessness and mental illness on the island. In the south, the problem is particularly noticeable around the beaches, where the homeless find a bed on the beach or in shacks. They are very vulnerable, of course, but become caught up in a degrading and degenerating cycle of drugs and crime just as a means to survive.

All that apart, and however sad it is, they pose a threat to us. As I’ve already posted, there has been an incident in the last few days of someone who went beserk on the Playa de las Vistas promenade, and who tried to rob a car hire place, and then attacked five women. The local Canarian/Spanish press and interested parties say that because of cuts and local authority indifference, the promenades, particularly in Arona but also in Adeje to a certain extent, have become no-go areas after mid-late afternoon, abandoned to these people, with tourists blissfully unaware of the risks they’re running. Never mind what sort of “thinking” is behind this official “policy”, there is a problem.

Sadly, it is necessary to warn everyone, resident and tourist alike, that we have to look out for ourselves and, regretfully, avoid or take extreme care in these areas after 5pm or so when the police presence is to all intents and purposes non-existent. I really wish I didn’t have to make this post.


  1. The world seems to have gone mad these days. I just had a phone call from a friend in Hawaii asking about the soldier murdered in front of the public yesterday in London by a terrorist – you do wonder about these people who take drugs and alcohol and get brainwashed by militants. We can all do our best to look after own folk as well as keep our eyes open for trouble.It is a sad world.

  2. Gosh Janet, this article seems a bit strong. I regularly walk along the promenade between the “golden mile” area of playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos between 5pm & 7pm and although you obviously can’t tell who may be a risk, there are usually plenty of people around enjoying a sundowner or still enjoying the beach. Your article makes it sound like a no go area. I wouldn’t walk along there late at night but there are plenty of places in the South and elsewhere that I would avoid at night.

  3. Meant to add that this doesn’t do much for the “upmarket” image of the island that the Tourist Board are trying to promote or are we to become like America where nobody walks anywhere?

  4. This is a very delicate, and complicated issue, but I respect, and am sure that Janet would not be making this post, if she did not feel it was totally necessary. I have not lived in the South for over 10 years now, but when I do go down, I feel less safe than I used to in the past. Keep safe everyone and be aware of the possible dangers.

  5. Author

    Just to clarify, the words “no-go area” were actually used by a police source …
    Yes, it’s strong. I’ve held off posting this for a while, and indeed have held off a few incidents rather than posting them to avoid generating concern, but when the police themselves express it, then I feel it only right to bring it to wider attention.

  6. The police know where and who these people are, can’t they do anything?

  7. Author

    Oh I just don’t know. Look at what happened with the Bulgarian. In and out of mental hospitals, court orders, police couldn’t do anything even though they knew all about him. They can arrest, but they can’t detain without a court order. And by the time a court order came for Deyanov, he’d vanished … and when he reappeared we all know what happened.
    The main problem is perhaps one of lack of coordination and a joined-up policy for mental health care and policing. Then there are cuts to policia local presences, and it’s they who are the frontline, really, for community policing.

  8. This concern I feel very definitely is based on a fear and ignorance which is based on very false premises; an attitude that we in the UK have had to deal the in the past and I am pleased to say education had largely laid this myth to rest.
    The plain truth is that people suffering from a mental health problem are statistically less likely to be violent by quite a significant margin; than the general population!
    The fact that the two occassionally co-incide as seemed to be the case in your high profile incident with the murder is not evidence to connect the two types of behaviour.
    Lots of love to everyone in my favourite place and hope to visit you all soon

  9. Author

    The problem is that when violence does arise from those with mental health problems it is often sensational. There is also an issue of terms here: “mental health” covers a huge range of conditions, and could refer to anything from paranoid schizophrenia to depression, autism to bipolar. No-one is trying to “blame” the mentally ill, nor categorize them in any way.
    The sad fact is that when people lose their job, run out of state welfare assistance, lose their home but still owe the banks for the mortgage of a property that’s already been reposessed, they become desperate. These are not normal circumstances here, and they are not “false premises” at all. This is not, as I would have hoped was clear, a case of “mentally ill” people on the street, but of people whose normal good mental health is impaired or ruined by their circumstances, as well as those who actually have a recognizable condition.
    Only last night there were calls from charities for the government to do something (god knows what) to avoid a “social explosion”, and this morning there’s THIS article in El Dia about the profile of “the new indigent” – i.e. older, native not immigrant, etc. The situation is critical, and abnormal, is resulting in desperate behaviour, and is frightening those involved in social welfare on all sides, from mental health to paediatrics, age concern to housing. “Labels” are not what we need to worry about right now – we are way beyond that.

  10. I agree totally with you Janet, we are in extreme circumstances, with the very high level of unemployment on the Islands, and the limited time these people can claim benefits. When these people have no income whatsoever, they are in a desperate situation which will lead them to do desperate things.

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