1676887646 Ayusos squatting alarm doesnt resonate with citizens the 112 phone

Ayuso’s squatting alarm doesn’t resonate with citizens: the 112 phone number receives six requests a day

The President of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, during the session of the National Executive Committee of the PP.The President of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, during the session of the National Executive Committee of the PP Borja Sánchez Trillo (EFE)

“The occupation of real estate is a phenomenon that causes great social concern and an undeniable sense of insecurity among citizens.” This is how the Autonomous Community of Madrid presents the occupation of the telephone number 112 (900 205 112), which was inaugurated last June. However, in the first six months of its existence, the service barely managed to answer six requests a day, according to information obtained by EL PAÍS through the Transparency Act. Of these 1,163 calls received between the last week of June and December 31, 2022, 42 came from outside the Autonomous Community of Madrid, ie only 0.02% of the adult population of the region used the service. With one important nuance: the data provided is not broken down by interlocutor, so the same person may have made several calls. Of the total, only 6% of cases were reported to the police. A record that contrasts with the concern generated by the main spokespersons of the PP since 2019, when Isabel Díaz Ayuso and José Luis Martínez Almeida came to power in the municipality and the city council, putting the fight against squatting at the heart of their political agenda put .

This is how Ayuso Podemos replied in a parliamentary debate in February 2022: “I can tell you in advance that from March we will start the anti-squatter bureau, the anti-squatter bureau, and help the local police, to the judges, to the prosecutors, but especially to the owners of the houses that their friends live in and to those who defend them whenever they govern, so that they leave their property quickly”.

And this is what Martínez-Almeida said in October: “Which did not happen in the previous term [en referencia al gobierno de Ahora Madrid con Manuela Carmena]. They are not social movements but face movements because they want to live from the face at the expense of all the people of Madrid and our commitment [contra ellos] it’s solid”.

The two declarations make it clear that for the PP, as for Vox, the occupation is a problem that opens up an opportunity: it allows the confrontation with the left to mobilize the conservative voices. However, these claims do not take into account some data. In Madrid there are about 4,300 squats in a park of 3.5 million people. And of these 4,000, 2,108, 50% come from the Community of Madrid through the Agency for Social Housing (AVS), according to the executive. These figures suggest that the supposed citizen problem is actually a government problem. As the main victim of squatting in the region, the regional executive has made decisions to curb the phenomenon: for example, it has decided to spend €200,000 on vandal-proof doors and alarm systems in 2021 “to avoid squatting” of 257 empty houses in his property. And the government of the capital, also from the PP, is in the same reasoning and shares the same problem, they spent 1.4 million until 2022 for a contract to protect communal land.

These decisions reflect that public properties and the vacant properties held by banks, mutual funds and corporations are being hit the hardest. In fact, the squatted private homes are the minority, as recognized by the administration. An x-ray that might explain the number of calls the 112 crew is getting.

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According to the data obtained from this newspaper, the 112 crew gave a transfer to the police in 6% of calls (70 cases), although it is not possible to know what happened in each of them. The government is defending the introduction of this service, which will be offered seven days a week with two operators for each of the three designated shifts (morning, afternoon and night). “This tool provides information, advice and prevention on occupational issues and has achieved good results, as since July up to 70 situations that could have led to an occupation have been avoided or averted,” explains a spokesman for the municipal. “The profile of the calls received from this number is advice for current professionals, lawyers from neighboring municipalities or for proceedings related to the Crime Victims Welfare Office, as a victim of crime is anyone who suffers suffering Episode of the occupation”.

The municipalities with the largest populations are those that generate the most calls to 112: Madrid (830), Getafe (25), Parla (21) or Alcalá de Henares (19). There is also a group of requests (41) that come from places that the police officers coordinated by the device cannot do because they lack the competence: they are from outside the region. The record obtained by this newspaper is that the peak of inquiries coincides with the summer months, when more houses are vacant due to the holidays of their residents and it is easier to occupy them: 192 calls in July, 309 in August and 271 in September, which accounts for 66% of the total. The service was also launched right at the beginning of summer 2021.

The proximity of local and regional elections will certainly revive the debate. Few issues mobilize voters more than the defense of private property. And Ayuso knows it: That’s why he ordered the Canal de Isabel II to stop charging water fees from the owners of squats. A bet that affects few citizens but attracts many voters.

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