The Balearic crime rate has not risen by 50 per cent this year, central government delegate to the Balearics Catalina Cirer said yesterday, despite claims last week by the Police Union that the situation in the Balearics is “critical.” Cirer said yesterday that the figures which point to the 50 per cent rise in the number of crimes this year, are only “partially correct,” as they apparently do not take into account that since last December, National and Local Police crime figures have been combined. What is more, Cirer said that the recently launched, but somewhat controversial “Focus Plan” crime crackdown, is working in Palma. The operation, which involves the joint Local and National Police forces, was launched on November 6 and since then police involved have responded to 50 incidents. The central government delegate, who is the Partido Popular's candidate for Mayor of Palma at the May 29 election, said that the operation has also enabled police to obtain a more accurate picture of crime in Palma. A number of special attention zones have been established, such as the Playa de Palma, Puerta San Antonio (red light district), Avenidas, Gomila, Parc de ses Estacions, Centro, the three industrial estates, Son Bauzá, La Soledad, Camp Rodó, Son Oliva, Son Banya, Can Pastilla, Las Maravillas, Honderos, Son Gotleu, Son Oliva and the airport. Since November 6, 348 arrests have been made by the Focus Plan officers, 130 detainees being Spanish and 218 foreign. It is the disproportion between the figures that has provoked outrage from ethnic minority groups and accused the government and police of racism. However, the claims have been denied by the authorities and the general public in Palma has backed the plan. Palma policing will receive a welcome boost in the New Year with as many as 50 new policemen and women joining the National Police force in February while, Cirer said, that an extra 50 recruits will also arrive in Palma around the same time. She believes the police are winning the war on crime and are effectively improving citizen safety levels in the capital. Cirer said that it is vital that the public feel safe and relaxed and do not have any doubts in the security forces. “I've urged them to make a much bigger effort as things aren't going too well,” she said, referring to instructions the police have been given. Further reinforcements have been called for by the Balearic government. There are some 300 vacancies in the National Police and Guardia Civil forces, but because the compensation for transferring from the mainland to the Balearisc is insufficient, according to police unions, there is little incentive for policemen and women to transfer.