By Humphrey Carter

KEY tourist attractions along the Playa de Palma are to come under 24-hour video surveillance. After the best part of two years of pressure from Playa de Palma hoteliers, businesses and residents to take measures to curb rising crime along the strip, Palma city council has finally agreed to take action. Yesterday work started on installing a network of six close-circuit video cameras along the promenade and in calles de la Cerveza and del Jamón, the heart of Playa de Palma's night life. The move was welcomed by the local hotel sector but warned the city council against reducing the number of Local Police officers on the beat. Hoteliers said that cameras should be a complement to policing in the area not a substitute. Palma city council's security chief, José Manuel Sierra, and Local Police chiefs yesterday held a conference with the Playa de Palma hotel sector, residents and businesses to explain the new security measures and what other steps are going to be taken during the tourist season. The network of cameras will be completely installed and 100 per cent operational by May, which is when the number of police deployed in the area will also be boosted. Sierra explained that the cameras have a very long and wide range, able to pick out a vehicle number plate or an individual's face, and will be connected to a police control centre by fibre optic cables. “The engineers have assured us that with just the six cameras, we can cover all the black spots, but of course, we can always add more cameras if required,” said Jordi Cabrer, president of the Playa de Palma Hotel Federation. Llucmayor council, which is responsible for Arenal is also installing three close-circuit cameras along the promenade and both Local Police forces will this summer be co-operating in operations along the Play de Palma. Cabrer stressed the need for more police however, pointing out that between January and October 2001, 865 arrests were carried out along the Playa de Palma “and some of the detainees had been previously arrested on a number of occasions.” He also said that during the summer season, the population of the Playa de Palma balloons to the equivalent of a third of Palma and therefore needs the necessary police. This summer, Sierra said, an extra 60 Local Police men and women will be posted along the Playa de Palma, similar to last season, which proved successful. He also said that come the end of May, new legislation will have been passed to allow for “fast-track” hearings which will help to rapidly deal with and stamp out petty crime.