Although no specific threats have been received and the threat level in Spain remains the same as it has done for some time, it is inevitable that security measures will be increased to ensure that the festive period passes as safely as possible.
Guardia Civil and police checkpoints will be in place in various locations. Although many of these will be traffic related, there will also be many others which are checking vehicles for security reasons. Once again we remind everyone of the importance of not sharing the locations of these checkpoints should you see them, such as through social media, as this often gives those who may be intent on criminal activity the opportunity to avoid detection.
If you are stopped at a checkpoint the advice remains the same too. Stay calm and act on the instructions of the officers involved. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear and you will be on your way in a very short space of time.
It´s not only on the roads where danger lurks at Christmas time, which is why the police also offer a wealth of advice on how to stay safe, with the hope of making shoppers and traders aware of potential risks, thus hoping to reduce the number of scams, thefts and robberies that often occur in areas where large crowds gather.
A greater presence of police officers will be noticeable in key areas, as more officers are being deployed, not only on foot, but on horseback and supported by their k-9 colleagues as well.
A guide book was previously produced, and is still available, warning of the dangers, and current information can always be obtained through the three Twitter accounts, @policia, @interiorgob and @polprvalencia, which are the National Police, Interior Ministry and Valencia Police respectively.
One of the most frequent incidents the police have to deal with is lost children. The police recommend the obvious, keeping a close eye on children at all times, but also the less obvious, such as ensuring the child knows their name and a telephone number to contact in emergencies. They also recommend a wrist band or bracelet with the name and contact number of the parents printed or engraved on it.
For adults, you should avoid carrying large amounts of cash and make sure that you are not followed when you have collected cash from an ATM or a bank. If you become suspicious, contact the police immediately.
Do not accept help from strangers who supposedly want to help, they sometimes take advantage of your guard being lowered in order to grab money and valuables.
Avoid street-gamers playing such tricks as the “shell game” or “find the lady” type scams, not only will you not win, your distraction leaves you vulnerable to theft.
When you visit friends and neighbours, always lock your home securely, leave nothing of value in view, don´t fully lower your window blinds and don´t announce your intentions to vacate the premises on social media.
Similar advice also applies to the car of course, never leave valuables such as gifts on show. If you return to your vehicle with goods, be careful you are not seen if you then leave your car to continue to shop.
The Police would also like to remind party organisers and revellers that any activity, party or public celebration must have administrative approval and comply with safety standards, such as having fire extinguishers, security and emergency exits indicated. If any incident occurs: keep calm and try to stay away from that area, alerting the organiser or 091. Always follow the event security personnel or police where appropriate.
Finally, if you see anything or anybody acting suspiciously, please notify the authorities immediately. Although you might not consider it an emergency, the 112 call centre is staffed by people who speak a variety of languages and nobody will be offended if an alert turns out to be false, as that is by far a better outcome than ignoring something which later results in a tragic incident.
Stay safe this holiday period, look after yourself and your belongings, keep them out of sight at all times, keep bags and wallets secure and never unattended, and be vigilant, that way we can all hope for a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year period.