Spain’s Guardia Civil criticised by British motorist

LAST UPDATED: 15 Nov, 2013 @ 15:53
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Spain’s Guardia Civil criticised by British motorist

A BRITISH motorist has criticised the Guardia Civil after being detained for hours over an escalating set of trumped-up charges.

Jonathan Adshead, 45, is furious after being accused of a litany of crimes including knocking over a cyclist and talking on the phone, but only finally being fined for failing to indicate correctly, an offence he strongly denies.

The motor dealer, a regular visitor to Spain, is now planning to sue the force after he was told to pay the €100 fine or spend ‘at least a night’ in the cells.

He and his wife Carmel from Lancashire have just ended a rental contract in Mijas and have decided to move back to the UK permanently because of the incident.

It comes after they insist they were ‘very aggressively’ treated by the police over a three hour period on October 19.

“We now see the whole thing as absolute corruption – we were gobsmacked,” he added.

The couple – who have been visiting Spain for decades – were driving out of Mijas pueblo when a Guardia Civil police car pulled them over.

They were initially told that they had failed to indicate at a roundabout, but when they denied the charge, things turned nasty.

The officer became furious, ignoring their attempts to cooperate and insisted that teh came to the station for more questioning.

“When I came over with my phone, so he could speak to the insurance company, he knocked it out of my hand,” explained Adshead. “I couldn’t believe it.”

They spent the next three hours at the station being questioned by four different officers, who continually invented new charges.

Describing it as a ‘fishing exercise’ he said: “They assumed a couple of Brits, leaving a small village at lunch time would have been drinking – I think they thought it was a sure bet – but when the breathalyser showed all zeros they just about blew the roof off the place.”

It was at that point they alleged that he had hit a cyclist, threatened to compound his car and arrest him for the night.

When he was accused of talking on his mobile while driving he showed them his call history, which proved that he had not been on it since the morning.

“They kept coming up with new charges. The police said, ‘pay up, or it’s really not going to be a good weekend for you.

“They might as well have put a menu in front of us and said, ‘choose what you want to pay for’.”

Eventually they managed to get a Spanish friend to speak to the police, who advised them to pay up, or face something worse.

They were told they had to pay a €200 fine for not indicating, which would be reduced to €100 if they paid it on the spot.

Olive Press legal expert Antonio Flores, of Lawbird, said the police would never have let Adshead off with a fine if he had in fact hit a cyclist.

He said, “If he had hit a cyclist he would have surely been arrested. The fine indicates just that, a failure to indicate correctly when turning. Nothing surprises me.”

Unsurprisingly the incident has left a bad taste in the mouth of the motor dealer. “I’ve come to Spain since I was twelve years old and we have been coming every five or six weeks,” he said. “This has really put us off the place.”

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93 COMMENTS

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  1. Good Cop Bad Cop..happens everywhere…but I have found that the GC are mostly very polite including Trafico.,, in fact 100 times better than Policia Local.

  2. There are clearly some uneducated morons commenting on this site. I love visiting Spain but corruption is rife and morals and ethics do not top many people’s agenda. Possibly not to different in the UK, I agree. It is ridiculous to think regular tourists to the UK etc come under the same level of scrutiny that various people that are pulled over by these menacing ex-army men of Spain get. UK Police may not be that clean but our system isn’t that distressed where they take a bung to keep stuff quiet. It is not so much this couples story is a big issue, problems happen, but how many drunk and drug riddled drivers have genuinely paid there way out of a conviction! Too many people are thinking about themselves on this site and less about the effect on others. This story is a shame and just because it happens elsewhere to others and in other countries does not make it right. Cretins.

  3. I was arrested in Lanzarote buy the Guardia Civil accused of conspiring with Moroccan to commit forced robbery. I was very drunk at the time and was only on the island a few hours before getting lost at night. I was asking a few people if they knew where my hotel address was, when the Moroccan man pointed so I followed. After a while I realised he wasn’t helping and I left him and found a security guard. He didn’t know so I started walking down the street when I seen the Guardia drive past. I flagged them down and they turned around and arrested me. They accused me of stalling the guard because the Moroccan had entered the complex and charged me for forced robbery. I was held for two nights and I couldn’t eat the food offered and I didn’t have a wash. I was taken to court in Arrecife and was believed by the magistrate but not the prime prosecutor. I was advised that if I pleaded guilty I would get a 613.50 Euro fine, a four months suspended sentence and be let out in 20 minutes. If I pleaded not guilty then that would complicate things, they’d take my passport and I would be there for they couldn’t tell me how long. As I was frightened, hungry and dirty the fine seemed a better option so I pleaded guilty. The issue I have is now I have a criminal record for a crime I would never commit as I’m a student at university and I’m meant to be moving abroad as part of my degree working with children next year. Having this record puts that in jeopardy for me as I have to pass a CRB check in order to do this. I’d be grateful of any advice on this matter, thanks for your time.

  4. The Guardia Civil in Spain can do whatever they want whn they want and they will always win in a court of law. Now soon they Will be able to fine your vehicle without even having to stop you or offer proof.

  5. Yesterday after a mere twenty minutes driving into Spain over the Col De Portalet I was stopped by the Guardia Civil on yes – a trumped up charge of failing to stop in the middle of the road when turning left. I had stopped briefly and there wasn’t any traffic coming the other way in sight. Threats of impounding vehicle etc It would have been funny if it weren’t so serious, and the guy’s complete lack of any empathy – we were all exhausted from a long journey – suggested he was in this for real. We paid up the 100 Euros. But words fail me. Fascist ? Certainly. But it’s sad that these thugs are allowed to get away with it. Maybe they just don’t like Tourists ?

  6. No Julian. They’re just fascists. They treat Spanish the same. A friend of mine got a risible 10 euro fine last week for not having the ITV (VAT) inspection summary sheet in his car (with the ITV sticker clearly showing in his window and valid).

  7. I think in Spain they are missing Franco!
    The bloody logo on the Guardia civil cars make you understanding or not?
    i cannot believe how is possible a Police in a Country European member tolerate a simmbol like these have!
    It’s like if the German Police would have a Swastika on their cars!

    i’m Italian been living in Uk some years moved to crappy
    Spain!

  8. Driving back home yesterday saw some friends and their children next to a police car. They had been clocked by a hidden speed camera in an abandoned car going up a hill, where the speed coming down is different to it going up (100 down, 80 up). Anyway, the Guardia Civil made all the family get out of the car, including the two children (6 and 8) and made them all stand in a line whilst they took all details etc. When I pulled in to see if everything was ok I was told not to speak to them. They had been there 40 minutes like that the wife of the driver told me. @Flavio’s comment is, unfortunately, most accurate. The family are now making a formal complaint for the horrible treatment.

    The abandoned car speed camera was left on the side of the road, at night, facing the wrong way, with no warning lights, just waiting for a family to smack right into it. Where’s the legality in that?

  9. One evening I was driving home and got stopped at one of those group checkpoints.
    While my 6 & 4 year olds cried loudly in the dark I had to wait an hour for the GC to make up some bogus fine… (and was later advised, dont complain or it’ll get more expensive)

    If i hadnt been selfishly preoccupied with my tired and hungry children i might have behaved as an ungrateful unwrothy guiri, from a much worse country, and reported the corrupt behaviour – making the world a better place. silly me.

  10. The Guardia are pretty civil round our parts normally. We do all need them too remember.

    Fred, yesterday when you pulled over, isn’t it more likely that the family asked the Guardia to stop you from speaking to them?

  11. I got out of the car once when I was stopped and they told me to get back in, so I stay in now. I have been stopped loads of times in Spain but I believe they have new cash targets now regarding fines so .. The should wait outside those Spanish bars they would make a fortune. I knew an English person who had been to prison in UK and Spain and he told me that when they stopped him once he offered his wrists in a sign for them to handcuff him and take him away. He did and still has a bad reputation in the area and he said they let him go as they could probably not be bothered. He would of happily spent a night in jail and he would have taken his kids with him to inconvenience them a bit more I reckon. He has a house in this local village and when he turns up there it is big news, everyone of all nationalities starts phoning everyone and locking everything up. He can be a likeable person but he does tell you he takes medication as he is mental and his brain is not chemically balanced!! Sorry to go off topic, just laughing here as I type, true story.

  12. Biffo,
    you don’t know the useless EU regs. You cannot bring a case until you have exhausted all possible means to resolve the issue in the country concerned – you would be long dead before that moment arrived – when the UK,Finland,Denmark, the Netherlands leave this totally corrupt gravy train will collapse – then we can create something that actually serves the European peoples – coming soon TTIP.

  13. We have problems with the Guardia Civil in Asturias as well. No doubt the crack-down on drunken and speeding drivers has been good, but there are many, many instances of Guardia Civil trying to give ‘multas’ for non-existant violations. And, many are just ill-mannered brutes. During festivals, we suspect from the aggressive behaviour that some officers are taking amphetamines. Speed-traps coupled with a bizarre sequence of speed signs that change every 15 meters or so is one of their favorite devices, though they also have ‘stop everyone’ events as well. We were caught up in one of these 2 summers ago. Moto officers seem the worst behaved. Because I own a house I have empodronamiento, but as I spend less than 6 months/year in Spain, I am entitled by international treaty to use my US driver’s license, which in the US is issued state by state, ie, there is no national driver’s license in the US, though one issued in one state is valid world-wide. The officer – clearly- ex-military – didn’t understand the regulations and said that I was illegally driving and subject to a huge fine and confiscation of vehicle. I politely but firmly explained what the regulations were, and that I was not doing anything illegal. “Your an expert on Spanish laws?” he responded. “No,” I said. “My friend is the director of a Spanish driving school, and he has explained all rules.” He became very rude, then verbally aggressive, leaning into my car shouting at me saying “you don’t know this man! You are lying!” It got to the point that I was starting to have a fear attack: shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, sweating, trouble finding words to answer. I told him that my Spanish was not adequate to defend myself. He responded by calling me a #$@ liar, that I understood full-well what he was saying, that I was trying to manipulate him to get away with breaking the law. This went on for 20-30 minutes until, thank god, another younger officer came over. He was the Cabo in charge of the squad. He told the moto officer to step back and then addressed me politely in both Spanish and English. My wife asked him whether this mass traffic stop was to find a terrorist or criminal. He laughed. “No”, he said, “this is a fishing expedition to raise money for their quartel in Ribadesella, orders of my commandante.” He added that he did not agree at all with this misuse of Guardia Civil services, but had to follow orders. He looked at my papers and said all was in order. The moto guy came back to insist I be given a ticket for not having a Spanish permit. The Cabo told him all is ok, and told the moto officer he should leave. He did not, so the Cabo needed to assert his authority and firmly tell the moto guy to leave, which with hesitation, he did. The Cabo apologized saying, “Please understand that I have a very ‘special’ colleague. You have not broken any laws and are free to leave.” He then said, “I have family around Tampa, Florida. If you can live in the States, why do you live in this shit place with all of the problems caused by this government?” We told him it would take us time to sell out house because of the bad economy and trouble with the local ayuntamiento’s ruling party’s collusion with real estate interests. He then gave us his name and told us that when we come to Ribadesella, we should stop at his quartel and we would go out for a coke. We left. When back in Cangas de Onis, I contacted a friend who owns a driving school to ask what we should do. He told us all our papers were in order, that the moto officer was clearly wrong, and suggested we denounce the behaviour of the officer. Of course, we did not, as we knew this would put a target on our car. Our friend inquired at the Asturias motor vehicle department whether there was anything else we should do. Except for another certified translation of the US valid driver’s permit, there wasn’t. We avoided using the road between Oviedo and Cangas de Onis for the rest of the year. This year there are still stopping many people, but usually only after Sunday lunch and legitimate speeders or those without up-to-date vehicle inspection. So far, our local police have not made trouble and are generally correct in their manners.

    • Chas:
      Next time you’re back home, you need to pick up an International Driving Permit. This has your picture and a statement of your driving privileges translated into a number of languages, including Spanish. This permit is formally issued by the State Department, but the easiest way to get one is at your local AAA (auto club) office. It costs you a few minutes and a few bucks to do this and – as you’ve discovered — it can save you hours at traffic stops, and at car rental offices in Spain.

  14. Interesting tale, chas.
    “…denounce…the officer. Of course, we did not…” – Don’t worry. You can leave it to us English to fight for justice and civility; as usual.
    (this is not in any way funny)

  15. “Don’t worry. You can leave it to us English to fight for justice and civility; as usual.” ?
    Rather odd thing to say given the expat crime rate in Southern Spain.
    We have been fighting illicit, corrupt real estate and construction practices here for 12 years ((with help from Abusos Urbanisticos No, (AUN)). A property owner from a non EU country – hence – no EU protection – discretion is needed dealing with corrupt and non-rational entities. One needs to pick one’s battles carefully.

  16. So there you go. I nearly got killed one day out jogging in Galicia. The young woman concerned was connected. The Guardia deliberately would’nt come and take a statement and when I went to the court to see what was going on, the little judge screamed at me. The driver’s insurance company was able to access my particulars without my consent from the hospital, totally illegal under EU laws but what the hell does that matter. Governments in the north could easily cripple countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal but refuse to. If this had been done decades ago, innocent people would’nt be suffering now. Countries like Spain should have been made to enact an awful lot of reforms, checked out ruthlessly, then and only then allowed to join the community.

    But of course it is only a community of big business and nothing else which will soon ratify TTIP.

  17. Chas,
    if you read some back issues of the OP or my post you would see that EU protection simply does’nt exist, not for anyone. A lot of ignorant people think that the USA is one big State, it is’nt, there are real differences from one State to another but the b/s that the bureaucratic parasites in Brussels would have us believe is that we Europeans are.

  18. Why do you think it’s illegal to film a police officer at work in Spain? If they’re not doing anything wrong they’ve nothing to fear. Or does that only apply to the rest of us?

  19. Stuart
    Exactly!
    When living in places where their is an aggressive police culture and incompetent or corrupt judiciary, its best to tread lightly.

  20. Alun,
    The International driver’s permit is not issued by the USA State Department. It is issued by the American Automobile Association, a private association. But the USA government does recognize the AAA Int’l permit as being based on a bona fide legal state-issued license.
    We had one. The problem was that this Guardia Civil officer chose not to honor it since he had it in his head that I needed a Spanish permit because I owned a car and a house. On this he was wrong. The Spanish law states that one needs a Spanish license only if in Spain more than 183 days, that is, subject to Spanish tax laws.

    • Sorry Chas, but the International Driving Permit is indeed issued by the US Department of State under the terms of the United Nations Convention of 19 September 1949. As I previously mentioned you can pick one up at your local AAA office (with your drivers license, passport, two photographs, and $15), but it is issued under authority of the US government, just like a passport.

      The permit does contain a warning that it has no affect on your obligations under a foreign nation’s residency laws. Needless to say, neither does it have any affect of whether a police officer — rightly or wrongly — believes you have broken those laws.

      • What I first said remains correct: “The International driver’s permit is not issued by the USA State Department.” Perhaps we can clear up semantic confusion between the words ‘issue’ and ‘authorize’ as those words apply in this case.
        International Drivers Permits (IDPs) are ‘issued’ only by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the National Automobile Club (NAC) under the ‘authority’ of UN Treaties to which the USA is a party. The US State Department ‘authorizes’, i.e., delegates, IDP activity in full to AAA and NAC as the only authorized ‘issuing’ agencies, but plays no part in processing or issuing IDPs.
        AAA and NAC are not part of the State Department by virtue of being providers any more than a UK provider holding a Royal Warrant to sell hats to the queen is part of the official UK royal household. Its good for business, but it ends there.
        To get an IDP in the USA, one goes to NAC or AAA offices (in some cases via mail via recognized bonded procurers at substantial extra cost) to provide a valid state driving license, $15, and passport-like pictures.
        Agencies providing IDPs other than AAA and NAC must be either bonded procurement agencies, or are counterfeiters selling fake documents.
        Most people apply in person rather than via costly intermediaries. Overseas diplomats and staff may have a different process, though when I had a State Department academic scholarship, I had to go through AAA or NAC.
        I have been getting IDPs for 50 years, and know the process. So, while it is true that to have a proper IDP means the IDP must be recognized by the UN Treaty, it is not correct to say that an IDP is issued by the State Department. Application and issuance is accomplished entirely by the non-governmental AAA and NAC.
        Even so, there are countries and traffic enforcers which do not recognize IDPs – such as in Spain if a Guardia Civil chooses not to. I hope this clears up the semantic confusion.

      • Forgot to say:
        A USA passport is issued direct by State Department’s own authority, of which Embassies and State Department branch offices in Federal Buildings are a part (as opposed to Post Offices, which only handle applications which are then sent to Washington DC). In the case of passports, ‘authority’ and ‘issuance’ are the same, even the same people, if, for example, you have ever gotten a fast, emergency passport while waiting for it in an embassy or Federal building. The same people do it all while you wait. Whereas, in the case of IDPs, as I have explained, the authorization body and issuing entity are not linked except through service contract, that is, there are no official State Department officers working in AAA or NAC.

  21. Chas,
    that means every State in the Union, when you had your confrontation you must have felt right at home but then again maybe not – I hav’nt heard of any Guardia shooting dead a driver, just how many drivers are shot dead by police every year in America and why are nearly all Americans gun crazy – assault rifles are for armies not civilians.

  22. Stuart,
    You are absolutely correct on this gun insanity in the USA. Thank god there is gun control in Spain!
    A few Guardia Civil, like everywhere, are known to knock people around a bit.
    But as George Orwell and Arthur Koestler have pointed out in their Civil War chronicles, Spanish authorities are fonder of emotional and psychological cruelty – probably part of the Inquisition legacy.
    As to the American case, I don’t know what can be done to get rid of the assault rifles and pistols, but clearly something must be done and soon. Most Americans agree, but we have our corporatist problems, too. Maybe Bernie Sanders can win.

  23. Chas, your country is totally controlled by big business, the same as in the UK. You can waste you can waste your time voting but it is just a waste of time. The problem in the USA is that the founding fathers were all landed gentry, your revolution was just a re-run of the English Civil War – landed gentry against the nobility and all were slave owners and the blackman and the indigenous peoples were completely omitted from the ‘rights of man’ they were considered sub-human. 17 million indigenous people have been slaughtered in the land grab it was done with guns. Every time Obama tries to get this sorted millions and millions of Americans, mostly whites just go and buy more – there are over 700 million guns in the hands of ordinary Americans – the world looks on in disbelief.

    After Charlie Hebdo and the massacres of the 13th, there is no wish amongst the French for guns I wonder if most Americans can understand this, or maybe they think the French are crazy.

    Big Jon – your still living in Spain why don’t you, why are you asking someone else to, you need to ask yourself that question, don’t you.

  24. Yes, most countries are controlled by big business. Cynicism and low voter turnout are some of the factors why corporatism is so dominant. But a reading of history shows that the founding fathers were not all “landed gentry”. Many countries have also gone through and are still going through the ill effects of colonialism, serfdom, slavery and class domination. In order for there to be progress towards justice we must all participate and not just complain. Participation does make a difference as it did with getting Obama elected. Now we are hoping for Bernie Sanders and the trimming back of the Tea Party in Congress. This will take time, but is a better option than rolling over and quitting.

  25. @stuart – Your assumption that i do not ‘fight for right’ reveals a lot about you and your social circles. I think its a pity you spend so much time picking fights in public forums rather than putting that energy to good use.

  26. I have to sat that I have had mostly good experiences from the Guardia Civil .
    I’ve been pulled up on many occasions ( sometimes fined )
    Eg No lights on my motorbike .
    Seatbelts / even one for my dog ( yes my dog ) not having a seat belt or harness attached to the Car
    Many other times such as breathalysed twice ( negative )
    But I must say that they have always been Courteous and very Proffessional
    And in these uncertain times I’m glad they are there

  27. So BigJon,
    just what do you do to ‘fight for right’ you never said. Now’s the time to state exactly what you do and it’s only your ‘opinion’ that I pick fights is’nt it. So come on tell us all what exactly you do.

  28. I was stopped by the Spanish police accused of using my mobile phone while driving which I didn’t and I was forced to pay a fine of €100 which made me feel very bad if the police in Spain are corrupted

  29. This paramilitary organisation is not pleasant, my advice is try to avoid them if you can. They are generally rather revolting and they target UK motorists as they are a soft touch and a great source of revenue. It’s impossible to reason with these individuals they think they are above the law.

  30. I was asked tonight because of my poor spanish how I hold a spanish licence, it should not be allowed. I passed my test in Ireland and transferred it for a spanish one.

    What has a language got to do with what licence I have and how well I speak the language.
    I am european and so are Spain. If I want to Speak spanish thats my choice as long as I abide by the law. 7 plus million spanairds dont recognise spanish as there first language or speak it at all. (eg) Catalan, Basque, Galician. etc.

    • I think that would be good for the EU to speak an artificial lenguaje as Esperanto or Ido as official lenguaje., for driver licence, etc.

  31. The Spanish license exam can be taken in English, The translations of late are mostly conprehesible, though they were not last year. I am currently studying for it and the experience is somewhere between silly and a nightmare
    As for targeting foreigners, that isn’t likely true here as everybody seem to be a source of revenue. Brits probably are a target in immigrant communities given their propensity to drink and/or ‘party’.

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