15 May, 2017 @ 13:23
1 min read

British expat urges Spanish police to speak more English


duquesaAN EXPAT has urged police to do more to help tourists who become victims of crime.

Ed Wilcox (right), who has lived in Duquesa since 1982, is appealing for more English-speaking officers to be recruited for the Costa del Sol.

Wilcox, a retired computer repairman, believes the number of English-speaking tourists justifies the majority of beat officers speaking the language.

His appeal comes after he was randomly asked to act as an interpreter in crime cases TWICE in two days.

Although only a passer-by he was firstly asked to help translate for a British family who had been burgled in the Los Hidalgos urbanisation last week.

“Both the local police and Guardia Civil were on hand and were very pleasant and efficient, but none of them was able to speak English so I was asked to translate,” said Wilcox, 75.

The next day he was dragged into another case after four Norwegians had their passports, and a laptop stolen from their car at Supersol, in Manilva.

“I know we’re in Spain but this area is benefiting from a tourist boom again and something needs to be done about the language problem.

“They need to employ translators like those that are available in hospitals.

“While the police are obliged to provide translators for court cases, they are not forced to provide one to victims of crime – it’s absolutely ridiculous.”

On a recent visit to Manilva Guardia Civil barracks, the Olive Press was brought in to translate for a tourist, who had had his wallet stolen, taking a full 30 minutes.

Malaga Police were contacted for a comment but have not yet replied.


Laurence Dollimore

Laurence has a BA and MA in International Relations and a Gold Standard diploma in Multi-Media journalism from News Associates in London. He has almost a decade of experience and previously worked as a senior reporter for the Mail Online in London.

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  1. Seriously? And we wonder why Brits aren’t liked much. For goodness sake. It’s Spain, Spanish is the first language. Learn some or struggle. Simples.

  2. In the year 2017 after 25 years of the European Union and also on the basis that the entire economy is based on tourism, it is blatant malevolent ignorance to refuse to learn English. In this day and age it’s unforgivable that the Spanish carry on as they do to the English, guilty of pointing out faults in the system. If you are Chinese or Muslim, apparently you are liked more than the English, well, aren’t you clever, most of us would never waste a penny ever again in that country since experience is a greatest teacher.

    • <>

      In year one after Brexit English will be the language of communication in the EU for people from Malta and Ireland only (if not Scotland and Northern Ireland join us). Why then, anyone within the EU should learn English?

      Instead Greek should become the lingua franca for the entire EU. This will give jobs to 1 million Greek people who will act as language teachers for the rest of the EU. And the UK will have more fun dealing with the EU market place after Brexit.

  3. How ridiculous to suggest that tourists from all over the world should be expected to know Spanish to the level of describing a criminal incident. If one visits a country as a tourist whether it be Vietnam or Sweden or anywhere else, according to the above person’s comments one should have learnt the language. Sure, if you intend to live in a country you should make an effort to learn the language. I totally agree that it would be a good idea if the Spanish police on the Costas learnt some English, where is the harm in that? The police in the Uk use interpreters when needed to assist the victim of a crime, but perhaps the budget for Spanish police does not stretch that far. As a fluent English/Spanish speaker, I would be happy to oblige if they need a specialized course.

  4. I had my purse stolen from my handbag in an elevator at Aeropuerto de Málaga November 2014, my Spanish is a little more than basic but I could not describe the event in Spanish. The Guardia Civil at the airport quickly put me onto a translation service via the telephone at their office where a detailed statement was taken. It turned out that the Police were aware of this gang but no one had made a denuncia so they were pleased that I was prepared to do so. The people concerned were taken to court and had heavy fines imposed upon them. I can only say that I found the Guardia Civil most helpful.

  5. I can only assume this man feels that english is the b all and end all. As someone else has commented, we are in Spain, learn the language. Does he honestly think we in the UK teach our Police Spanish or of course any other language the criminals speak.

    Dear God, they walk among s.

  6. English is, with Spanish and Chinese among the larger languages oof the world. However, we are in Spain.

    While police learning English would obviously be better for tourism (I am always suprised so many Brits still seriously think we learnt Engelish Only for them…), there are some points to be made:

    Police deal with law. As we are in Spain, anything to do MUST be in Spanish. Like it would be Chinese in China.
    You can laugh this away, but it is amazing to know how many, particularly in Spain, sign e.g. contracts in English, that have absolutely ZERO value. You have no contract!
    Particularly here in Spain, people beleive in barristers, who are not not registered in Spain, often even do not speak the language of the law here. And thus have ABSOLUTELY no liability or any other risk representing you and can charge whatever they like!

    If you are reading this and you have e.g. a rental contract in English and a fantastic barrister, be aware, if anything happens, you have nothing. It has no meaning in court.

    The same is true for policemen. For asking directions etc. it would be fantastic if they all spoke 30 languages or more. But if a policeman only says in English, “drop that gun”, you can simply still use that gun, and later in court say you were not told to drop it. As it should have been in Spanish. The same is true for fines (multas). If written in English, they would not be valid. Anyone could just ignore them here.

    Last but not least, never trust a travel agency that makes you believe that with a discount TUI ticket, you’ve just bought yourself a whole country!

  7. We live here, our Spanish is pathetic, but we accept that this is our problem, not the problem of the police or any other agency. If I feel that strongly about it, I will learn Spanish. Meantime I will just muddle on, using online tools. What I won’t do, is complain that they can’t speak English. Ridiculous, if this story was published in the UK about another immigrant group, there would be an outcry. In this day of modern tech, there are plenty of resources available to us, to allow us to get by, as well as the translation service mentioned in an earlier comment.

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