Commissioner Cristina Manresa: “Thorough planning is the key to success”

Comissària Cristina ManresaCommissioner Cristina Manresa Llop, born in Barcelona in 1968, has a 19 year-old son and lives in Badalona. With a diploma in Criminology and a degree in the History of Art awarded by Barcelona University, she joined the Mossos d’Esquadra on its fourth promotion – 26 years ago – and became a commissioner after having experience of all ranks. She believes this is important because having provided different services and having been in different situations have given her an insight and given her knowledge of the difficult task faced by police officers, and have taught her to value the important things in life.

She is currently Head of the North Metropolitan Division and has been Director of the security plan of the Mobile World Congress since 2013.

She has been given several awards and prizes, she is a member of the ethics committee of the Catalan police force and has spent years taking part in teaching and training activities, and giving lectures.

What is your appraisal of the safety features of the latest edition of the Mobile World Congress?

Very positive, nothing of note has happened in a congress which has set a new record, with 108,000 people, which amounts to a rise of 7% compared with the previous year. The crime rate applicable to each 1,000 visitors has been 0.34, a lower rate than the one recorded in 2016, which was 0.36. The number of crimes has remained stable with a reduction of 13% being committed on public transport and with 91% consisting of thefts.

We feel proud of the work done by the police forces, emergency services which along with the organisers of the MWC, the managers of the Barcelona Fair and Barcelona’s tourism department, have contributed to overseeing the security of those attending the congress and the smooth organisation of this event. That’s teamwork!!

What planning, preventive, emergency, and public security tools enable you to help and offer protection to people during these big events?

Our work is based on a Directive Security Plan (PDS), a document which states the objectives and features of the event and organises different tasks for those involved so that we are effectively coordinated. Eight programmes which include public security police resources, public order, intelligence, mobility, civil protection, accommodation, etc.

As part of the preventive policy, the PG-ME has promoted the distribution of information from security councils on the social network of the Mossos d’Esquadra and on 112. And material has been distributed with basic security measures to those attending the congress with the aim of preventing crime such as informative panels on transport, posters and leaflets in different languages. These actions have been carried out in collaboration with different entities participating in the organisation and security of the event, such as the GSMA, Barcelona Convention Bureau and the Association of Hotels.

 In what way, from a planning perspective, does it have an impact having so many actors (public and private) from different fields and administrations, in the same event? Is the human factor vital in this sense?

Thorough planning is the key to success because there are many participants in the PG-ME with different specialities: GEI, Escortes, Subsol, Canina, Tedax, Hèlix, BRIMO, ARRO, Information, Public Security, Transport, etc. We also involve external personnel in our organisation, from other municipal police forces (Hospitalet and Barcelona) and external operators: The organising company, private security, emergencies, the Barcelona office of tourism, the council, transport companies, etc.

For this reason we begin to plan after the summer until the months of February or March which is when the MWC takes place.

There is an initial Meeting with all the representatives and we explain anything new and the chronogram, and afterwards the groups develop the services which will be provided and supervised by the plan’s direction team until the final three mechanisms take shape in three phases: Pre-alert, Alert, Maximum alert.

While the congress is taking place there are different daily meetings, with the plan’s direction team and the organisation first thing in the morning, with the police services and transport organisers.

When the MWC is over there is a debriefing session where suggestions for improvements from all services are gathered.

The human factor is fundamental, as knowing each of the operators greatly facilitates the task, we are a team and everyone works to make things better every year. The success of the MWC belongs to us all!!

What has been the most complex situation that you have had to address in recent MWCs? Is there any aspect or complication which crops up every year?

In 2016 with the new number 9 underground line because this was a new element and very much at a trial phase, we didn’t know how many people would use this line. On top of this, there was a transport strike and mobility got complicated.

Managing the queues and entry of those attending the congress to the venue securely is a challenge because of the issue of terrorism. Since 2015 we have identified all participants, we have increased the amount of personnel and have tightened security measures with containment elements at points of entry: pylons, metal detectors, scanners, dogs, etc.

Security advice which we communicate to those attending the congress via the PG-ME is, we feel, a good way to stop them becoming crime victims. Prevention is a good tool and we work on this before the congress by meeting up with the hotels, catering, and tourism associations and with other operators.

Have you been inspired or do you get inspired by any other type of similar event when you innovate with preventive and security measures? And, alternatively, have other security services or similar events been inspired by the work done here?

The experience of other events or services we, the PG-ME, work on have inspired us to develop the Directive Security Plan of the MWC. This is a document which sets out, in eight programmes, each of the particularities of the security services, the amount of personnel working on each task, place, timetables and other technical features. What I feel must be stressed about the PDS is that other external operators participate in the PG-ME. An integrating and transversal way of working with other administrations and private parties.

There has been interest in the working methods, and other police forces have reproduced the PDS model.

 As a woman and commissioner of the PGME, what is your opinion of the role of women in the Mossos d’Esquadra police service?

My assessment as a woman in command is that we should make an even bigger effort to achieve gender equality in the police force at all levels, and also at the level of being in charge, where the effect of the decisions made is more tangible. Here there remains work to be done. A police officer of the XXI century needs to be open and prepared to meet whatever challenges are set. A woman’s viewpoint is very important when developing security policies.

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