- The general director of Emergencies and the Interior, Santiago Villanueva, the director of the Galician Tourism Agency, Nava Castro, and the Autonomous Police Commissioner, Fernando Pico, went to O Pino today to visit one of these patrols.
O Pino (A Coruña), 5 August 2019
More than 40 Autonomous Police officers keep pilgrims safe on the different branches of the Way of Saint James every day. The patrols supervise and assist, as well as protecting the environment and cultural heritage.
The director general of Emergencies and the Interior, Santiago Villanueva, the director of the Galician Tourism Agency, Nava Castro, and the Autonomous Police Commissioner, Fernando Pico, went to O Pino today to visit one of these patrols. They were accompanied by the local mayor, Manuel Taboada. They distributed backpack covers to pilgrims to improve their safety on the Way.
The officers who travel each day to the four neighbouring provinces through which the Way goes use off-road vehicles and motorcycles to ensure security in areas that are difficult to access.
Their roles are: preventive (petty theft, begging, unauthorised street vending...), environmental (fire, dumping...), protecting cultural heritage (actions prohibited on the Way, alteration of signs, unauthorised advertising...), and investigative (monitoring of pilgrims, monitoring of shelters...).
So far this year, the Autonomous Police has carried out nearly 1,100 inspections related to the Way, resulting in 10 accusations, most of these relating to illegal signage, street vending or to cultural heritage.
The Xunta has on several occasions requested the Ministry of the Interior to increase the number of staff in the Autonomous Police, which would require 100 more members to have full coverage. In this way, officers would also be able to better secure the initial and final parts of the various routes of the Way of Saint James.