JANUARY this year bore witness to 4'790 recorded crimes and cases of failure to comply with the law in the Balearics, an increase of 0.76 percent on the same period in 2003. Figures were confirmed yesterday by central government delegate in the Islands, Miquel Ramis, who specified that in January 2004, the number of cases of default rose to 1'796, a drop of 0.83 percent from 2003, and reported that 2'994 crimes were committed, 1.73 percent up on last year. Ramis said that at the beginning of February, the Playa de Palma security plan had got off the ground, promoted by the central government delegation. Key features included further reinforcement of local police staffing levels and an increase of plain-clothed officers and support teams. This operation will be in force throughout the year. A principal objective is to prevent groups of criminals getting a grip on the area, warned the delegate. He said, however, that most of the criminal activity in the Playa de Palma could be described as low-level. Ramis also reported that additional action had been stepped up in the fight against crime in the district of Palma as a whole. This had required stretching the resources of a number of different police units. Ramis announced that at the beginning of March, 95 new National Police officers will be brought to the Balearics, 55 of which will go to Palma, 6 to Manacor, 6 to Ciudadela, 3 to Mahon and 25 to Ibiza. According to the delegate, these additions make up 6.5 percent of the complement of 1'453 new officers who are being sent to different regions of the country. In this respect, he pointed to the effort that has been made by the central government Interior ministry in ensuring that 80 percent of available positions in the Balearic police force have now been filled. He emphasized that probably the Council of Ministers will study on 27 February the rise of the complement of prison officers per jail, which will have an impact on the stability of staffing levels, he pointed out. He gave assurances that substantial pay awards will help secure the long term future of police officers in the Balearics, promoting the quality of service they offer. Ramis defended the measures which the government saw fit to use to reduce the number of road accidents. He alluded to the improvement of the roadway network planned by the Balearic regional government and road behaviour programmes being conveyed to school children and drivers alike.
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