THE National Police and Guardia Civil recorded a total of 74'497 crimes and law infringements committed in the Balearics during 2003.
According to information made available yesterday by the central government representative in the Islands, Miguel Ramis, the figure represents a drop of 5.68 percent in relation to the previous year. Ramis highlighted the fact that this figure is the most positive yet seen in the past 20 years and that it is above the percentage decrease for crime figures throughout Spain. One in every four crimes committed in the Islands is solved by the police and 76 percent of documented crime is the work of recurring offenders. Of this figure, 37.5 percent are foreigners. From a negative viewpoint, there is however a real upsurge in the number of crimes related to traffic offences, reaching 132.32 percent in 2003, with 1'919 infractions. Additionally, the number of crimes related to domestic violence grew by 53.10 percent to reach 816 cases. Ramis attributed this increase to the lack of culture in the lives of Balearic society, and to population growth. Eduardo Pérez Extremera, head of the police in the Balearics, announced that for 2004, more officers have been recruited for the Domestic Violence unit of the National Police, which is currently staffed by volunteers within the police force. Of the nine full-time positions, only two operate in Palma, while the smaller islands lack the service altogether. The delegate also expressed concern for the 10 deaths that occurred on Balearic roads during the first fortnight of January this year. Bearing in mind that the same period of 2003 had witnessed 6 people losing their lives in traffic accidents, he called on Islanders to take a long hard look at their conduct on the roads. What is not acceptable is that drivers complain about the high accident rate on the highways and at the same time resent the controls that the government is imposing on driver behaviour he pointed out. Ramis pointed to the lack of officers in the police force which is never fully staffed, as 28 percent of places which should be filled have remained vacant. He saw it as very positive that Mariano Rajoy, the Popular Party's number one candidate for the Spanish leadership elections in March, has announced that in order to reinforce State security forces in the next legislature, there would be a Popular Party commitment to providing training and job creation for yet another 32'000 officers. This would mean 7'000 new recruits at a national level in 2004 and it is hoped that a part of this group will be allocated to the Balearics. The representative also gave prominence to the fact that in 2004, a security plan will be drawn up specifically for the Playa de Palma area and that new legal complaints offices will be oped up in the coastal areas of the Islands. We cannot forget that tourism is our bread and butter and must therefore be mindful of the image we project to visitors.
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