Safety in Spain

As in much of Western Europe, safety in Spain is not a major concern. That said, petty theft is still present, largely in the urban centres, and criminals are known to specifically target foreigners. Terrorism in Spain is also a concern; the county has witnessed terrorist attacks from both regional and international terrorist groups, although no major attacks have occurred in recent years.

Protests spurred by on-going economic problems in Spain have also led to much insecurity in towns and cities in recent months, with numerous anti-government protests organised across the country. These have been widely publicised and it’s important that expats monitor the situation to ensure that they are not directly affected.

Crime in Spain

Passport theft is becoming more common, since demand from potential illegal immigrants has fuelled the creation of a lucrative passport black market. If your passport is stolen, immediately report it to your local embassy and have the passport reissued. Very few people need to see your passport, so don’t show it to anyone unless they are employed in an official government capacity.

Pick-pocketing is also rife in some crowded areas of Madrid and Barcelona. Keep your valuables in front of your body or locked securely away. If someone bumps into you, it is worth paying attention to where their hands are wandering, as they may be searching for valuables.

It is also worth finding out what a given taxi ride should cost before you depart. Some locals take a perverse pride in ripping off ignorant tourists.

Apart from that though, expats are simply advised to take basic security precautions while in Spain, like locking doors,  being mindful of possessions in crowded tourist areas, and avoiding deserted or dark streets when walking alone at night.

Terrorism in Spain

Though the assumed al-Qa’ida terrorist attack on one of Madrid’s train stations in 2004 likely remains fresh in many minds, terrorism bares very little concern from locals and other residents of Spain.

On the domestic front, The Euskadi ta Askatasuna - Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) is a long-standing indigenous terrorist organisation fighting for the independence of the Basque region. This organisation uses explosive attacks to support its pursuit of autonomy, but often alerts the government beforehand to minimise deaths and damage.

ETA attacks are extremely rare as of late, and police have made key arrests that have significantly weakened the ranks of the group.

Protests in Spain

With the country’s economic woes and high unemployment, Spain has witnessed numerous protests and strikes in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Spanish cities in protest over welfare cuts and unemployment, amongst other grievances.

Violence has erupted on numerous occasions and protesters have vandalised public and private property. The protests in Spain have severely affected service delivery and transport in the country. Expats in Spain need to keep abreast of developments and should avoid protest areas.

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