Barcelona Photoblog: Police Chase, La Ribera Quarter. Is Barcelona Less Safe?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Police Chase, La Ribera Quarter. Is Barcelona Less Safe?

Police Chase in La Ribera Quarter

Police chase I witnessed some time ago in the narrow streets of La Ribera quarter near Santa Caterina market in Barcelona. That day we were taking part in a photo walk organized by Barcelona Photobloggers and suddenly we saw this police car coming right towards us at an impossible speed for an alley like the one in the shot. Needless to say we all stuck our butts against the wall and got so scared that didn't even think of taking pictures. We were standing at an intersection, a cop headed down the street in the image and the car followed but some scaffolds got in the way and they stepped on the gas in reverse in the most pure Hollywood style and went up a slightly wider street. At that point, I remembered the camera and captured this blurry silhouette. I knew it was awful and distorted but I was surprised it had the mood of some documentary shooting. The following morning I read a young man had been killed in the subway and attackers had managed to escape in the narrow alleys nearby although they were caught some days later. Maybe not the same events but it could be.

Well, you know, this sort of things may happen in Barcelona too although it is not an everyday scene.  Or maybe it is but you get to see one or two a year. The fact we are not part of the action does not mean we should look the other way and pretend the problem does not exist.

According to last semester's official poll 43% of participants think the city is worse than before against a more positive 34%. The previous poll carried out in June 2009 showed an opposite result.

The number of people that think local authorities do their job correctly or efficiently is lower than in June but it is still favorable to present town hall administration. There is a certain feeling of being on the right track or so they say, as emphasis is being made on security this year. Results cannot adorn the evidence, 19,6% of citizens mention insecurity as their deepest concern, followed by unemployment voted by 17,6% of participants.

Of course I don't mean to scare anybody: Barcelona is not Sin City!


  1. I think you can see crime anywhere but yes it's definitely scary being in the middle of it!

  2. Anonymous2:48 AM

    How moving to read.
    Scenes like the one you wrote about, are a daily sight over here in Athens - which by most, isn't "seen" anymore; and yes, life seems to have changed much lately.

    A wonderful Thursday - and thank you for the reminder, that we are all in this "life" together.

  3. I lived in Barcelona back in 2004 for a year. I've seen the police punish the Morrocans selling DVDs or CDs, but then again, I've seen the police not give a shit and turn a blind eye to shady activities.

    I never felt scared for my safety in Barcelona.

  4. Que buena esta Carlos!

  5. Carlos, do not criticize yourself too harshly. This is a superb, powerful photo, full of tension and movement. It does indeed have a documentary style. I would be proud to take such a picture.

  6. oh wow... that can get pretty scary! but i like the shot, really shows the action going on over there.

  7. Having been here for 16 months now, watching the news in both spanish and catalan, reading 3/4 newspapers a day, I think that Barcelona is safer than many similar places I've lived. But obviously, s..t happens everywhere I suppose

  8. Me gusta esta foto. Transmite una gran sensación de pura y dura realidad.

  9. This is a great action shot Carlos.

    I am very protective of Barcelona as it is my most favourite city in the world but I have to confess that on my last visit in June I did feel less safe especially around the lower part of La Rambla.

    Every night at around 10pm a whole flock of prostitutes descended on La Rambla and were propositioning everybody - even those men who were walking hand in hand with their wives. It was very intimidating and they tried to pick our pockets.

    There were also a lot of tricksters trying to con people out of their money by getting them to gamble by guessing where a particular card was.

    The police ignored all of these activities but relentlessly chased and moved on the Africans who were selling counterfeit goods.

    It spoilt our visit and local people said that there were often letters in the newspapers by locals complaining about this.

    Saying that, we will be back again because we love the city and hope that they police clamp down on the more darker crimes.


  10. Goodness me!! It turned out to be a scary adventure! Good to know you're all safe! This is indeed a nice action shot full of mystery!

    - Pixellicious Photos

  11. Like anywhere else, you always have to keep at least one eye open for people who are up to no good. Especially on La Rambla. Having just recently been to Barcelona, I can say that we never felt unsafe no matter the hour. But to find yourself in the middle of a police chase is a whole other story. Getting out of the way was the smartest thing to do. Extra points for even thinking of grabbing this shot. Here people are likely to whip out their phones and take videos!

  12. Anonymous3:40 AM

    Seeing something simular today, it was your entry what was much on my mind.
    A nice Sunday for you.


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