Police on your doorstep late at night is never a good sign. If their business cannot wait until the morning, it must be serious, right?
And, so, it happened. Just before midnight, a car pulled up and two uniformed officers came straight to our house.
No, we had done nothing wrong – they didn’t want to question us… or worse! There had been no accidents involving family or friends – they were not bringing us sad news. So, why were they here?
Well, as silly as it sounds, they had come to pick me up ……. off the floor.
You see, I had slipped while transferring from the sofa to my wheelchair, and ended up on the floor.
Despite continued and varied attempts on my part, I was unable to get up – so called 112. This is the emergency number here in Spain, equivalent to 911 in the US and 999 in the UK.
The operator was attentive, reassuring, and efficient. He listened to the facts, understood I have esclerosis multiple (multiple sclerosis), and, after ascertaining that I wasn’t injured and did not need medical assistance, said help was on the way.
And, just 15 minutes later, two Local Police officers arrived to pick me up. This they did quickly and effortlessly and were both courteous and friendly.
Talking of police in Spain, perhaps I should point out that we have three forces – the Guardia Civil, the Policia Nacional and the Policia Local.
The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) is Spain’s conventional police force which is organised along paramilitary lines and controlled by the Ministry of the Interior. The Guardia has wide ranging responsibilities for national law enforcement and have the resources, powers and facilities of a normal police force. The Guardia Civil polices rural areas and smaller towns as well as the country’s highways.
The Policia Nacional (National Police) is the urban police agency of Spain. They are under the sole authority of Spain’s Ministry of Interior. Like the Guardia Civil it is a conventional police force, that polices cities and larger towns. It is also responsible for border security and issues residencia certificates for anyone wanting to become a resident in Spain and the essential national-registry identification number (NIE). It also undertakes the security of the Spanish royal family and the government.
Policia Local (Local Police) is the force that is controlled by the relevant regional or local authority. It does not investigate crime but deals with minor matters. These include parking, local traffic control, bylaw issues, and, of course, picking me up off the floor.