Guardian Angels watch over Barcelona

Non-profit organization patrols streets and metro in Barcelona

The Guardian Angels have been spotted in various areas of Barcelona (by Mike Henstridge)
The Guardian Angels have been spotted in various areas of Barcelona (by Mike Henstridge) / Oliver Little

Oliver Little | Barcelona

September 17, 2019 03:07 PM

On Monday, members of non-profit crime-prevention organization known as the Guardian Angels were spotted in various areas on the Barcelona metro and in Barcelona streets.

A quartet sporting their renowned red berets and white t-shirts was seen on patrol on L1 of the Barcelona metro. There is also a fifth member in the city, who is in charge of teaching personal defense classes. 

The organization, which was founded to combat crime and insecurity in the Bronx area, has extended its sphere of influence to 15 countries and almost 140 cities, including Barcelona. 

This week, they are in Barcelona patrolling the metro, where it is believed that up to 100 pickpockets a day make a living. 

Security crisis?

This week’s events come following a turbulent summer in which Barcelona experienced something of an up-and-down regarding a potential “security crisis.” 

Recent polls have shown that crime has become the biggest worry for citizens of Barcelona. Within this, violent robberies are up over 30% in 2019, while there were over 80,000 total thefts in the first 8 months of this year. Police operations were introduced on the metro to combat underground theft, albeit controversially.

Discontent among police

Catalan police’s discontent at this has two elements: first of all, authorities previously expressed their opposition to operations such as these, which have also been carried out by Barcelona locals, believing that they “do not help police solve crimes and can lead to tense situations and serious incidents.” 

Furthermore, police and criminologists have downplayed talk of a “security crisis.” 

The Catalan Association of Criminologists has stressed that the low rates of violent crime in Barcelona have sparked a disproportionate reaction to a slight increase.

Such views have been echoed by interior minister Miquel Buch and by Catalan police, who consider the data to be “not alarming nor exceptional.”

Connecting with the city

Nevertheless, Guardian Angels have expressed other intentions beyond surveying crime on the metro. Founder of the organization in Barcelona itself, Mike Henstridge, posted a tweet laying out other intentions of the group - these included moving around neighborhoods trying to “connect with the community.”