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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  1. This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, my family were subjected to a near identical charge that never took place, resulting in €2,000 of fines. We closed 2 businesses the next day and put the house up for sale and left. We lived in Spain for 25 years and now we no longer live there and wouldn’t live there again if they paid me.
    To add insult to injury I can’t even sell my house because they can’t run their economy properly!

  2. Dear Olive Press,

    I lived in Spain near Malaga, for 8 years and had many experiences with the thugs they call the Guardia Civil. Andalusia is the equivalent of the Wild West 200 years ago a very greedy and dishonest native people living life too their own corrupt agendas.
    I moved 3 years ago to Portugal and I would never return to that toilet the call Spain. Even a member of the Royal Family is in court for dodgy Diego behavior.
    They are a poorly educated with few moral values! And all bent.

    Russell Porcas

  3. I’m afraid to say that the Guardia Civil are the ugly underbelly of Spain, they represent the Fascist past and corruption is rife.

    They treat the foreigner with cold politeness at best and are,in essence, xenaphobic. It is amazing to think that Francisco Franco died in 1975 and yet his legacy lives on to this day, laughable really- the majority of them are basically unpleasant and the rest corrupt. A disgrace indeed.

  4. I imagine that having lived in Spain for some time to be fined for not indicating ( a fit-up)is especially galling for Jonathon as so few Spanish bother to indicate and that includes the Guardia.

    Your experience is not unique as I’m sure you are aware.

    When I went to the Guardia to complain that a serious confrontation had taken place with the scum who stole our 3 rescue dogs at first they laughed but then when they saw that I was determined to pursue the matter they acted with total bias and got in touch with the thieves so that they came in ahead of a scheduled meeting and so put their denuncia in first (very important in Spain).

    It went to court where after hearing the evidence the female judge lambasted the two thieves for over 2 minutes. After 3 months I got a letter to come to the court. Thinking it was just to let me know what punishment the judge had imposed I found that I was the guilty party and was fined €200.

    The industrial rake I had been threatened with had – disappeared, the piece of olive wood I was going to shape into a walking stick became – a spear. The small knife I had with me to shape the piece of olive wood had become – a machete – she owed someone a favour or got a bung, probably the latter.

    I should also mention that the 5 Guardia tried to goad me into saying or doing something stupid. Very few Spanish speak another language so it was easy for me to use Dutch and German to say exactly what I thought of their pathetic behaviour – they had’nt got a clue.

    As a footnote – sometime later she was convicted of outright corruption in another case concerning her boyfriend – you could’nt make it up.

  5. The above posts are excellent in that they all give the warning about corruption in Spain including at local level, and anyone thinking of moving to Spain should consider these issues. Spain is, as you say, still in Franco’s day and this is yet another part of their system that they refuse to clean up as with their bent property system and delayed court procedures.

    No doubt the rosy glasses brigade will tell you that you are all wrong!

  6. Whilst I too have had a run in with the Guardia Civil and encountered several corrupt Spanish lawyers and accountants, you shouldn’t forget that there is a lot of corruption in the UK as well, so the anti Spanish hysteria is way over the top.

    The UK police in particular are a pretty dodgy bunch, as the recent plebgate and their barefaced lies about have reminded us, to say nothing of the disgusting behaviour over Hillsborough and many other cases, well known or not.

    All the regular Spanish people I meet are friendly and very kind and have been since I first came here over 12 years ago.

  7. Well maybe i have been lucky because i have been stopped several times by guardia, I have had 4 breathalisers in the past few years, had my docs checked 3 times recently and they have all been polite and respectful.

  8. This is a terrible story and sorry for anyone that feels Spain has let them down to the point that they move back to the uk!

    We have personally had dealings but never problems with the Guardia, and they have been very polite which is what they are known for (Except cases like this).

    Speaking better Spanish and not putting out a defensive attitude definitely helps (you can tell from previous rants that STUART above has a BAD attitude.. as an example.. so would get a far worse attitude back from the Guardia and the Spanish law).

    This isn’t a quaint Cotswolds village you’re living in here. But it is sunnier and nicer, so unfortunately you’ve got to roll with the punches or leave.

    Viva España!

  9. First, and best, lesson at driving school: “NEVER ARGUE WITH A TRAFFIC COP. IT CAN ONLY GET WORSE”.


    So, there was a traffic stop: “They were initially told that they had failed to indicate at a roundabout”.

    He argued with the cop:”.. but when they denied the charge, things turned nasty..”

    Mediation occurred: “.. Eventually they managed to get a Spanish friend to speak to the police..”

    And sanity prevailed: “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.”

    Then, choosing the inevitable British over-reaction, they: “.. decided to move back to the UK permanently because of the incident..”

  10. “This isn’t a quaint Cotswolds village you’re living in here. But it is sunnier and nicer”

    How is Spain “nicer” than the Cotswalds? I’d have to beg to differ. I have a holiday home in Almeria but I’d never consider living in Spain.


  11. A disagreeable experience indeed. But those posters who call Spain (quote) “a toilet” amongst other names should just take a look at yesterdays Daily Mail on-line (for example) and ask if the UK is any better.

    There are at least ten reports that mirror incidents here and ask yourselves if in Spain, for example, a convicted illegal immigrant child rapist would be given compensation for being banged up too long. No, of course not, he would be lucky to stay alive. He has already cost the taxpayer 350,000. @….Stuart Crawford “you couldn’t make it up”.

    My own experience in a visit to Nottingham UK a couple of years ago:. A pair of youths, standing on the castle wall urinating on passers by. I pointed it out to two police officers giving hassle to a motorist nearby who had had the temerity to stop to pick someone up. My accent clearly didn’t impress them judging by their facial expression and then one of them said (quote), ” they’re Rumanian ‘miduck’ we don’t go near ’em”.

    But do I condemn the UK as a “toilet” because of this?. No. And the “quaint Cotswold Village” is a representative image of the “green and pleasant land”??. Yeah right.

  12. May I echo Mark’s comments totally.

    I have lived in the North Cotswolds for the past 50 years and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else.

    I have an apartment on the Costa del Sol purely to enjoy the warmer weather.

  13. Derek, please just ignore what that Stevens guy says, he is a well known troll on here and just wants to incite arguments. We all know that the Cotwalds is far superior to Spain for quality of life. The local police here are a delight too, not corrupt like they are in Spain.

  14. Add that police problem to a long line of other problems and corrupt people then I can see why many leave. I left for other corrupt reasons. If you want your Country to move forward, expand, new business, attract investment then you are not going to do it with pensioners alone. It is hard to explain but although you do not have to deal with these people and problems every day, one or two a year over a period of time just puts you off of the place, it is dissapointing. People talk about corruption in the UK, yes there is some and there will always be corruption but it is not as widespread as it is in Spain, I believe it is openly available in every Town Hall. I can’t say I have come across corruption from a Government Official in the UK, but I accept there is a small amount of corruption. Regarding the comment about Romanians and Nottingham – I have been to Nottingham and it seemd OK to me but it was once the gun capital of the UK so maybe not the best example to use and I agree with you amparo, the Romanians are a problem and it would be good to leave the EU and get rid of them.

  15. Sorry Derek and Mark if you thought I was trolling. I wasn’t specifically mentioning The Cotswolds, just a deliberately stupidly obtuse example of how Spain and the UK are different and that some bad defensive British attitudes in Spain need to change to get a better reception from the Spanish.. the ‘we hate this we hate that’ Brit crowd. You can sometimes hear them really loudly when out and about.

    I’m only on here to battle away at the continual Spanish angry doomsayers, but that just seems futile so I’ll let someone else try and take over. cheers

  16. You’re right Alun, a lot of situations on this website arise from ‘confrontations’ with the Spanish police/officials. It’s not a daft thing to say try smiling and speaking as much Spanish as you can.. just NEVER defensive. It’s not England where you can swear in a policeman’s face, if you want to act like that.

    I have felt saying anything constructive, or giving good positive advice on this website is perceived as trolling or goading people.

  17. I’ve lived in Spain for six years and have met with more courtesy and friendliness than I ever experienced in the UK.

    Whatever country you are living in, if it isn’t your native country then it’s common sense to remember that you are a guest and to behave accordingly.

    Local police and Guardia Civil have never given me any trouble and always seem willing to offer advice or help if asked. I suppose there are always those who will run foul of the police whatever country they are in or are from and I’m equally sure that every country has its share of bad police, judges and politicians.

    I’ve been stopped and asked for my documents and the police were polite and helpful. The one time I miscalculated my braking distance, due to gravel on the road, I missed a gurdia civil car by inches as I skidded. The policeman wagged a reproving finger at me and grinned as he drove off.

    We can all recount stories for and against but it would take a world shattering event to cause me to leave
    Spain and go back to the the dreary UK.

  18. I think what some imply is that when you live in Spain you should conform to their way of life and the Spanish culture, so don’t moan when false fines are made up, let everyone rip you off and take advantage of you whenever they want and always smile after this type of event and say thank you, we will be happy to see you again and it is not a problem you are knocking down houses bought in good faith, via a Spanish solicitor and builder. Look at the Priors, house approved by the local Town Hall, Title deeds issued, house knocked down, local Town Hall told to pay compensation, never did and the Priors are living in a garage. They should just smile right and all those others should be Ok as it does not happen very often and you have not met them so it does not count!! Some of the comments I read on here, maybe you like being dominated and treated badly! What about land grab in the boom to build more empty houses, we take 40% of your land and because we are putting main drains in and sewerage you have to pay us £50k etc plus we keep your land, that is OK as you do not know anyone that this happened to. I have met people on the plane, they sell their house in the UK, can’t wait to spend the money buying a house when they step off the plane and they do not even know what an escritura is, maybe they will be Ok or maybe they won’t, it is like landing on red or black sometimes depending on your agent. I had someone rent one of my places many years ago, they were befriended, handed over £2k as a deposit only to find out the place had no permission to build, no property ever built and they lost their £2k, part of the culture eh? I love the dreary UK.

  19. it’s hard everyone.. not to stop commenting… REAP you say get rid of THEM. Who is THEM in any race?

    I had a similar one Eric, forgot to look left and nearly took out two Guardia bikes. Noted too for not having my seatbelt on. I told them I was an idiot, then they smiled too and carried on (after some mild finger waggling). The Guardia near us wave at us now. And the local police are basically everyone’s friends in town for help or advice.

  20. I am not a guest! I live here, run a business here, employ locals, pay taxes.
    And I’m fed up with the blatant corruption everywhere. Its very simple living here, you butter the right people, you get what you want. There’s no respect for the law or the authorities, just fear and jealousy.
    For the Rose glasses brigade – well lucky you, you’ve never run into a problem. But until you do, zip it. When you’ve been stopped in the night, taken away without cause, robbed by those who should know better, then you can comment on how great the weather is.
    I’ve paid so many fines over the years that half the councils new cars are from my pocket. And each and every one of those fines was bogus, trumped up nonsense.
    So i smile and say thank you sir. As the spanish themselves say – don’t complain or you’ll be screwed for more.
    It is particularly annoying that whenever someone points out the corruption/failure/flaws, the spanish response is “in your country…”

  21. Jack, I can only say how happy I am for you that you are making such a success of your life and business here in Spain.
    To run a business which not only pays for half of the local council’s cars, pays countless unfair fines and employs local people with the added costs of their health insurance and Lord knows what else – you must be doing extremely well to make it worth your while to continue in busines in a country that cheats you at every turn. Especially when you consider that you could run a business in the good old UK without any of those expenses.
    I must say that I can understand exactly how and why you have had problems with the police though. When you bravely admonish people you have never met through an anonymous medium for daring to have a different life experience and opinion to your own by telling them to ‘zip it’, I can only guess how courteous and well mannered you are when things don’t go your way.

    I have experienced problems in Spain. I have been cheated, lied to and robbed but strangely enough it was ALWAYS by British expats.

    It must be so irritating for you that Spain has different customs and laws to the UK. Still it must be worth it. You must be making a very good living here to suffer such outrageous stings and arrows.

    I’d hazard a guess that you don’t have a business that involves you having to actually meet customers though.

  22. Many thanks to the people who advocated being polite to the Guardia Civil.

    I got a speeding fine today and although I am not impressed with having to pay, it was quite painless.

    Guardia Officer: You were doing 78 KMH.

    Me: It is an 80KMH limit.

    Guardia Officer: Not the bit with the camera in it.

    I asked about points and the officer told me it was too small an infraction to warrant points but I would get a fine that would be reduced if I paid it early.

    I have lived here for 13 years, I speak my version of Spanish which is not always brilliant. In my second year I had 37 run-ins with the Guardia Civil and other government agencies, valid, others were not. I was always polite and as a result my fines were reduced or cancelled.

    I cannot blame anyone else for my ignorance of the law. If I made an uninformed decision, then it was probably my fault.

    As I said, I have been here for 13 years, if England was any better then I would be there. For me Spain is better but I will not open another business here.

    There are good and bad in all police forces. If you run into a bad one, you do not have to stoop to their level. It is easier said than done.

  23. Due to being a lorry driver I have been stopped on countless occasions in all areas of Spain and by many of the various police forces, Guardia Civil Trafico, Mossos, Erzaintza and Forales. I havent been stopped because I have broken a particular law, simply at random controls designed to police drivers hours, overloading and a whole host of other regulations drivers and hauliers have to adhere to. I have also received help and assistance from those same police forces.

    Irregardless of wether I have or have not broken any laws I have always been treated with courtesy and respect by the officers concerned. Yes on occasion I have been fined for one transgression or another – yet the only time I see officers getting irritated with people is when those people become irritated with the police and start demanding this, that and the other. Usually there is a fine involved and the person being fined fails to understand that the police here can and do impose roadside fines. These fines can of course be contested in a court at a later date – a great many ex pats dont realise this so start jumping up and down about paying there and then. This of course just annoys the police who will then understandably look for something else to really wind you up.

    No its not how its done in the UK, however suprisingly this isnt the UK, its Spain. You can tell its Spain quite quickly by taking a look out of the window, listening to the locals chatting in a different language, or indeed checking the weather forecast as its generally sunny and warm.

  24. Why doesn’t anyone listen to the ‘Rose glasses brigade’ (positive people), especially when it’s good advice on how to behave in Spain. People are only talking about their experiences here. All the negative comments come from people who just seem angry on here. They need to try and change their attitude in Spain when dealing with authority that’s all.

    I won’t say it though… no… ok.. can’t help it…. SIMPLES!

  25. Mr Stevens, is not a negative experience still a valid experience? I was pulled over for a spot check and my license was said to be invalid. It was not invalid. I wrote to the EU help desk via their website and a lawyer answered me, and said that my rights had been infringed and I should take traffico to court! I could have done that but it would have been a long, drawn-out and expensive affair and just not worth the hassle. That’s what Spain does; it just beats you down with things you cannot even properly appeal. It’s a very unfair country and everyone I know has had a similar experience. That is the reality for me, please don’t tell people what reality is.

  26. That’s sounds strange Tony. Was it just the regular Euro stars plastic license?
    What was the outcome? And if living here are you changing your license to a Spanish one? Traffico are notorious definitely.

    I think all people are saying that it really does help to have the right attitude in Spain when dealing with authority. Again, advice that’s not just unhelpful doom and gloom.

    It seems pointless to berate Spain without trying to give advice from anyone’s successful experience of dealing with problems you get here.

    Cripes, I’m just off out now IN MY CAR! Wish me luck!

  27. Erik: i look forward to the day i join the retired sunbathing cafe occupants, with no active involvement in society, with enough money to not be upset when its taken unfairly. Then i too can say just smile and say gracias.

    However i was brought up to resist the cheats and bullies at every turn, to try and make the world a better place for all…
    Interesting you’ve been robbed a lot by expats and not by locals. Integrated much? I dont know any expats, and only come here for the occasional reminder of retired life in the sun.
    oh i’ve got an old car for sale, for you, only 80K.

  28. Tony,
    it really is’nt worth the candle to argue with the likes of an arrogant teacher – they know everything (not). I’m mnot sure he is’nt ‘unreality’ assuming a different persona.

    I said in a post that was deleted that I speak castillano/andaluz (which is virtually Arabic) and some gallego, have many Spanish friends that I still keep in touch with.

    Attitude – strange that I have never had any problems living in France but then I never had problems when living in the Netherlands or Germany or my short working experience in wonderful Norway.

    The real problem for the Brit expats is that they are too docile so ‘authority’ always assumes that the next Brit is a chump too.

  29. Jack: I never expected to meet any Brits in the remote corner I selected to live in. I truly didn’t believe that anyone else would be crazy enough to choose a place more than 100 km from the coast and halfway up a mountain. I deliberately elected to stay away from the British ghettos on the costas.

    I didn’t say I’d been robbed or cheated a lot but on the occasions it has happened, it has always been a British expat who did it. There does appear to be a subspecies of expats who hover like vultures waiting for newcomers and no matter how careful and thorough your research, one is always a newbie and thus relatively vulnerable for a month or two.

    As for integrating, I’m friendly and open with people and everyone in my village knows me by name. In general Spanish locals are more likely to offer a drink at the bar than an expat. More likely to offer a friendly greeting and help when it’s needed too (and that includes the local police). I’m not a very social animal and prefer to keep to myself – I’m a writer and I resent interruptions.

    Like you, I don’t accept bullying and will bite back a lot harder than I’m bitten – I’m trusting but believe me, nobody crosses me twice.

    Thanks for the kind offer of a car but I still have my trusty right hand drive Ford Focus which I drove here from the UK, stuffed to the gills with 2 dogs and everything I owned and it’ll probably outlive me despite having 200,000 miles on the clock.

  30. Indicate at a roundabout? God, come to Denia where I live,…. no one indicates here, only with the “up you” fingers! Why do the Spanish do well in Motorcycle and Formula I racing?… because they practice every day on the roads!

  31. I have been a British Police officer for 28 years and retired to Spain last year. In my first few months I was subjected to a very aggressive Guardia Civil officer, during a ‘random’ stop and was treated in a very threatening manner when all I had to produce was my insurance and log book. I speak reasonable Spanish and told him of my background and was told that I should know better! For what I asked him and was basically told to ‘F’ off in the Spanish language.
    I have noticed over the past 2 years that the manner of the Police here has changed and it seems that if you read the local news that the central Govt has empowered them to act like this in order to suppress their people I get the feeling that democracy in Spain has once again taken a back seat.

  32. Unfortunately living in Gibraltar I know too well how unprofessional, rude, aggressive, uncouth, uneducated (I could go on) the GC are. Having been subjected to horrendous treatment by them in the Gib/Spain border. Why? cause they can – it’s that simple.
    I like Spain I think it’s a beautiful country but it has 1 massive fascist hangover and the PP currently in power are destroying what’s left of a country in shambles, rife with corruption, with censorship of the media and control of police forces – it’s like they have regressed 60 years.
    The GC were Franco’s paramilitary – it is inconceivable to me that they are still around – they are a disgrace and an embarrassment to your average decent and educated Spaniard.

  33. Anne, how I agree with you, we must never forget that all the big cheeses in the Partido Popular are descendants of the Franco regime, except that whilst Francoism was Fascist the present government have progressed to Nazism. They even sited their Boinas Negras, the Black Beret Brigade, the equivalent of the S.S. In Hitlers Germany, Hope Brits stop going to holiday in Spain and go to some other more civilised European Country, plenty to choose from, Welcome and respect included.

  34. Firstly, sorry to them for their experience.

    Now my main point. The Spanish do not know how to drive. The “legal expert” here sums it up. “failure to indicate while turning”. Indicators are there to show other motorists what you ARE GOING TO DO. Not what you are doing. I can see you are turning right due to the fact you are turning right. What I want to know is what you are planning to do! Even the L plated cars get it all wrong and don’t even start me off on roundabouts…..

  35. I am Spanish, and proud of it, Russell i take offence to you calling my country toilet…. Maybe you have the problem. I lived in uk since i was 2 yrs old. And loved every minute of it, never had a bad word to say about the country or its citizens, If you dont like Spain or us spaniards just shut up & leave. You leave a bad taste mate, Critizing and bringing us down, accepted the country is corrupt, but i speak to ex pats every day within my job and i can assure you that they love living here and would never move back. Unfortunately for some of you i can only aplogise on my countrys behalf, if you feel yoou have been mistreated, as for the civil guards, no comment as i hate their attitude and flashy stance……

  36. Pol Garci,im sorry mate,but your country has never known what democracy is,its constitution was drafted by Franco,and your current king was put there by the dictator himself.Dont come here giving us lessons in how democratic you are.600,000 euro fine for the right to publically demonstrate says it all.No hay pan para tanto chorizo.

  37. first of all say buenas tardes then if they fine say thankyou,then if you happen to disagree with the original fine then you get a bonus new one specially invented for you by themselves and then if you disagree well !good luck in proving your case against the word of a gc in spain mate …..they are the law th and iam a banana!!!

  38. Those of you who have come across polite, non-corrupt GC, Policia Nacional or Black Beret Brigade (equivalent of SS) are extremely lucky and a rare breed. believe me. and you can consider yourselves privileged. I avoid them like the plague, but when you cross the border from Gibraltar on a regular, if not daily, basis it’s an impossibility. Do you think that having to go through 3 lots of Spanish frontier controls is ‘proportionate’? Do you think that having Black Berets, with their contraption to stop vehicles ‘escaping’ is warranted? Gibraltar is one of the places with the lowest crime in the world, although that situation is deteriorating thanks to Spanish delinquents coming across. I can tell you on a personal level that, quite apart from the inhumane queues to get through BOTH WAYS, I always feel physical as well as emotional trepidation, even FEAR, as I approach the 3 controls. It is a most unpleasant feeling which I suggest you avoid given the chance. I don’t trust any of them as far as I can throw them. I think that is explicit enough.

  39. When I have driven across the border to France or back there is no queue. I have been stopped about 5 times in Spain, is this a waste of public money to have so many police out on the Roads and what are the gaining, people left feeling unhappy and leaving the Country… If they are after money just put more speed cameras up, they are the same as printing money and they work 24 hours a day, even in a siesta or fiesta time. How come they don’t stop all those Moroccans / Algerians driving around with a house on top of their cars in the summer? What is the difference? Please tell me.

  40. I’ve lived here for 20 years, and was actually glad to get back to a Guardia Civil-controlled territory when I moved from Barcelona to Málaga four years ago. Believe me, the Mossos d’Esquadra are even worse and Barcelona, for decades now the pickpocket capital of the world, is totally out of control. Anyone see that guy being murdered by 11 Mossos last month? Beaten to death in front of dozens of people and their mobile cameras. But they will get off with it – they always do.

    Let’s face it, there are corrupt and iffy coppers everywhere. However, in countries more developed in these social aspects than Spain clearly is, if police beat a man to death and it’s caught on camera, justice will be done. In Spain it won’t. I think there are some excellent points on here about how Spain remains rooted in its fascist dictatorship of 1975. The Guardia Civil WERE the paramilitary enforcers of the Franco regime, and yup, they’re still around. But when you consider that there are still villages around here that have a street (often the main one) named after the Generalísimo then it’s hardly surprising.

    As someone mentioned, the attitude of “No te quejes que solo te lo harás peor” (Don’t complain, you’ll only make it worse for yourself) is an accepted truth here – but that doesn’t make it right. I’ve met some good police here – very good: efficient, noble, fair and friendly. However, the reality is that most of them aren’t and will happily lie, stitch you up, knock you around, and maybe even kill you as happened only one month ago five minutes’ walk away from the Ramblas. Why? It’s simple! Because they know they will get away with it! That’s the problem with Spain – there is no real law, and no real justice either, so there are plenty of civil servants, police included, who will take this law into their own hands.

    Also, one piece of advice is: if you do see a Spanish driver indicate, pay no attention at all – that is usually more dangerous than them not indicating in the first place!

    Amparo – I loved the ‘miduck’ by the way (seriously).

  41. I lived in Spain for 14 years and still visit frequently. My impression of the police is that most are no better and no worse than the average in other countries, but you do come across the odd unreconstructed francoite one, particularly in the GC. However, my experience may be coloured by the fact that I speak the language fluently, which always helps.

  42. Well some may not like what they are reading but it is true to say that most Guardia Civil are rude have no manners & when they deal with British people they loose their heads they don’t like us at all, they are instructed in the old fascist way and behave like fascist thugs, really they are a fascist paramilitary institution.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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 ?

  46. 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).

  47. 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

  48. 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?

  49. 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.

  50. 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?

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. “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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. @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.

  63. 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

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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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