BALEARIC interior minister José María Rodríguez yesterday blamed central government representative Ramón Socías for a shortage of 480 National Police officers in the islands.
He was reacting to criticism from Socías on the low number of Tourist Police and the difficulties the local government would have in recruiting officers for a regional police force, reported in yesterday's Bulletin.
But Rodriguez said that when the next group of reserves arrives, there will be a shortfall of 480 officers in the National Police Force on the island, claiming that with Socias, there are fewer police in the Balearics in July and August than ever.
He also claimed that it was not true that the central government was going to send 400 officers to the Balearics for the summer, as Socías claimed.
He alleged that there would only be a first contingent of 40 trainee officers and a second contingent of 30 trainees in September.
He pointed out that none of them is a public functionary and would not be able to perform the full range of police duties.
Rodriguez also expressed his surprise at the criticism of the Tourist Police, who are on duty at local resorts for the first time this summer.
There are 129 officers, who speak English and German, on this force.
He claimed that if Socías were still Mayor of Soller, he would have requested the services of the Tourist Police.
The Balearic minister also criticised the transfer of 100 officers from the Balearics to cover events such as Forum 2004 in Barcelona, or the Royal Wedding of Crown Prince Felipe in Madrid, for periods of more than 48 hours.
He blamed the difficulty in covering vacancies in the police force to the differences in the cost of living bonuses paid in the Balearics compared to those paid in the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla.
Language also plays a part in dissuading police officers from other parts of the country from moving to the Balearics.
Rodríguez also claimed that there was a shortage of between 250 and 300 Local Police officers in Balearic municipalities, which he attributed to the lack of training facilities between 2001 and 2003 and the transfer of officers to municipalities where wages are higher.
But, he said, all the vacancies would be covered by 2006, as training courses were due to start in September.
He also said that the contracts of the Tourist Police would be extended from six to nine months.