STAFF REPORTER LAST year there was a 5.3 percent decrease in crimes and infringements (including traffic offences) in the Balearic Islands, according to data released by the National and Local Police forces in Palma.

Government delegate, Ramón Socías, the head of the police forces, noted that last year's crime figures were the same as those registered in 2002, despite the increase in the size of the population.

The crime figures for the Balearics were far better than those for mainland Spain. In terms of crime decreases, towns in Spain had on average a 1.5 percent fall, while towns on the islands fell by 2.4 percent.

In the urban areas, which are the responsibility of the National Police, crimes and infringements fell by 2.45 percent, and those areas under the control of the Local Police, fell 8.5 percent. Infringements, with 30'031 reports filed, made up 49 percent of total criminal acts last year, whilst crimes represented 59 percent (42'573 criminal acts).

The most common crimes and infringements were theft by force (22 percent), theft from vehicles (11 percent) followed by robbery (11 percent).
The most significant changes, in comparison to the previous year's figures, were traffic offences, which fell 16 percent, homicides and murders (including attempted murders), which decreased by 17 percent and assault and battery, which increased by almost 75 percent. However this latter figure is due to the latest Penal Code reform which widened this criminal category.

Although there was no complete data for each island and for the crime rate per person, Socías said that there was a 12 percent increase in delinquency in Mahon and Cuitadella in 2004 while in Ibiza there was a 7.8 percent fall in deliquency and in Palma a 2.8 percent increase. He also said that one of his main priorities is the fight against domestic violence but he noted that there were many difficulties in controlling this situation. “We can not have National and Local police in each district”, Socías said and he made a call for these groups to join together “in order to end this problem”.

In this context, the govermental representative said that his department is currently developing a regional security plan, which will be aided by a forum where all the various groups involved in the matter will be present, even including groups of inhabitants and business people.

On the other hand, the govermental representative confirmed that the Balearic Islands will receive around a hundred new police officers at the beginning of March. It is hoped that as a result of these extra officers the crime rate will fall even further.