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Go BackThe shape of things to come? Ibiza’s new after-hours rules...

Posted: 15/10/07 19:27

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Today, following a night of heavy weather, there was a news-worthy perfect storm in the first half-dozen pages of the Diario de Ibiza. Beginning with the familiar-looking headline announcing banning of "after-hours" parties, from next summer. This is the second time in as many weeks this headline has appeared (Read here... ). Today's story includes the new (though already widely-guessed at) information that the law will now mandate 12 noon opening times for clubs (as opposed to 8AM). The article also includes mutterings from government sources about the poor citizens of Sant Josep (the only area of Ibiza which allowed after-hours) and all they suffered during last weekend's Space and DC10 closing fiestas. Where – the paper notes mournfully – the 6AM closing and 8AM opening meant "we have no day and night."

Interestingly, there is not a single quote from a local resident. The nearest the story gets to backing up the thesis that these infamous after-hours are impinging on the neighbourhood's quality of life is the improbable claim that people from Sa Carroca complained they weren't able to sleep because of the Space closing party. {For those of you who don't know, Sa Carroca is a hamlet on the road between Figueretes and Sant Josep – a good 5km from Space. I live between Sa Carroca and the club and can say with absolute confidence the only way anyone from Sa Carroca could have been disturbed by the noise from Space is if they got up, drove down to Playa d'en Bossa and hung outin the parking lot}

Without any apparent irony, the next full page story was on the lamentable proliferation of illegal parties this past summer. The very same government officials who are keen to stamp out the well-regulated and fiercely patrolled menace of after-hours discos are fretting at the fact that holiday makers are increasingly turning to throwing bashes in the countryside, villas, or at restaurants. None of this should come as a surprise to anyone with a rudimentary grasp of cause and effect. People come to Ibiza to party – if they can't go to a club they'll simply turn up the tunes, break out a few bottles and carry on wherever they are. What is particularly inconvenient about this for the Spanish government and police is that private houses are far more rigorously protected by law than clubs. And not to forget, drinking in the streets is legal in Spain...

Police can raid a club. They can't legally enter a private residence without a warrant. So, as one government official pointed out, the police have had the galling experience of turning up at a house with "200" cars parked outside and being informed it's a "birthday party." Additionally, attempts to curtail house parties are complicated by the fact that it's often hard to establish who owns a property. By the time police are in a position to break up a party, or indeed work out who owns a house, the partiers will be long gone.

One would think that – all this considered – the government would be looking at ways to allow regulated, legal after-hours parties. Obviously, they aren't. The only solution then, as far as they are concerned, is to make more draconian laws against private citizens and to – potentially – come up with new ways of invading the privacy of people's homes. It's an ominous prospect for Ibicencos because there is no way the government can make rules allowing them to break up parties on private property without infringing on rights of residents and tourists alike. So unless citizens wish to face the possibility that actual birthday parties might be raided by the police it seems unlikely they will support legislation aimed at giving cops dramatically expanded powers.

Any citizen would think twice about wanting expanded policing if they read the brief, innocuous looking story on a following page – one announcing the police are considering allowing onto the force auxiliary officers who haven't even received a school leaving certificate. In short, they're so hard up for man (or woman) power they're seriously contemplating putting people who didn't even have the wherewithal to finish high school onto the streets in a law enforcement capacity.

Given that, policing in Ibiza requires diplomacy, patience and a grasp of languages, is this really a good idea? Dealing with pesky tourists is, undoubtedly, trying at times for even the most well-educated, self-assured officer. While not having finished school is not necessarily a reflection on intelligence, it is bound to affect a person's confidence and decision making abilities. An officer who is less educated will feel less equipped to handle difficult situations and is more liable to get involved in confrontations, even violence. Like it or not, it is the job of the police force to deal with people; not vice versa. Maintaining a level of respect is necessary for the police to do their job properly, and this suggestion seems sure to undermine their authority when they need it most.

As the past season's spate of closures and confrontations has shown knee-jerk politicking is not the solution to Ibiza's problems. Right now, the government and police have a clear eight months in which to sit down and come up with constructive ideas. Let's hope they use their time wisely.

Words by The Voice of Freedom