Crimestoppers in Spanish focus

Crimestoppers is launching its first campaign aimed at UK criminals who are living overseas. Operation Captura is focusing on southern Spain's Costa del Sol.

Crimestoppers is targeting English-language media, such as weekly Sur, which covers the Andalucia region and its main town of Malaga.

Captura will give detailed descriptions of its most ­wanted criminals and promote a new Spanish free­phone number (900 555 111) that connects callers to UK Crimestoppers staff.

The organisation is keen to erase Spain's reputation as a safe-haven for British crooks - personified by Ray Winstone's safecracker Gal in the 2000 film Sexy Beast.

The campaign will highlight the 21-year-old Spain-UK extradition treaty that allows authorities to return escaped villains to Britain. It will also explain how European arrest warrants brought into effect three years ago make UK police forces capable of combating international crime.

The Costa del Sol's large community of Brits has become a favoured base for crime bosses seeking to operate away from the direct attention of British police.

It is also a ­haven for criminals on the run or those looking to invest their ill-gotten gains in a discreet Spanish villa and blend in with the thousands of ex-pat or holidaying Brits.

Captura is a three-month pilot project.

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