CRISTOBAL Santandreu, head of the Guardia Civil in the Balearics, yesterday called for more men and better infrastructures, in order to work in decent conditions. He was speaking at the celebration of the force's patron, the Virgen del Pilar, at the main barracks in Palma.
The celebrations were attended by the leading authorities, including government representative Ramon Socias, Balearic minister of the interior José Maria Rodriguez, Mayor of Palma Catalina Cirer and the chief prosecutor Tomeu Barcelona, as well as the head of the Son Sant Joan air base, Fernando Martinez and the defence representative Cristobal Sbert.
Santandreu was the first speaker after the religious service and his speech centred on the importance of officers posted to the Balearics from other communities to integrate into society, but that they must be able to do so in decent conditions. He praised efforts made in recent years to maintain staff levels, but felt that the infrastructures at the barracks could be improved. The process of building new barracks is slow, and the maintenance of existing ones is insufficient, he said.
He listed the improvements which had been made in Alcudia, Son Sant Joan and the ports, and the complete refurbishment of the barracks on Cabrera island, thanks to funding from the central ministry of the environment.
He added that agreements had also been signed with the Council of Majorca for the refurbishment of various barracks, and with the Balearic government for the construction of eight new ones.
Santandreu also pointed out that in the past 12 months, there had been a ten percent drop in the number of penal infractions, but he said it was still necessary to continue to improve the subjective perception of more security among residents.
He then offered the loyal collaboration of the Guardia Civil with the other police forces.
Government representative Ramon Socias transmitted a message of optimism and tranquility about the future of the Guardia Civil, defending its continuity as an independent body.
After the speeches, medals were awarded, including the silver cross to former government representatives Catalina Cirer and Miquel Ramis and the chief of the National Police, Eduardo Pérez Extremera.
A wreath was laid in honour of the deceased members of the force, and there was a parade by members of the force, which was watched by a considerable number of spectators.