THE Balearics recorded the third highest crime rate in Spain during the first six months of this year, with 34.83 crimes for every 1'000 inhabitants, behind Madrid (37.36) and Valencia (35.24).

The Balearic crime rate was very much above the national average of 26.8 crimes per 1'000 inhabitants, according to official statistics from the National Police Force, published yesterday. These figures include all towns with more than 30'000 inhabitants.

But despite heading the crime rate table, Madrid and the Balearics are the autonomous regions where there were fewest arrests per 1'000 crimes and minor offences (119 and 69.98 respectively). Top of the list is Ceuta with 491 arrests for every 1'000 offences.

According to experts, these two indicators, which relate the variables of crime and population, are those which combine to give a better actual picture of the crime rate in each region.

The high crime rate recorded in the Balearics has for more than a year been a bone of contention between the Balearic and Spanish Governments, namely between the Balearic Minister of the Interior, Jose Maria Rodriguez, and the Spanish Government's Representative to the Balearics, Ramon Socias, as both have different interpretations of the figures.

Rodriguez has on many occasions demanded from the Spanish Government more police officers for the Balearics to reduce the “alarming” crime rate, expressing his worry that the feeling of insecurity on the islands would damage the tourist industry.

He maintains that, while the Balearic population has risen substantially in the last four years, the number of National Police and Guardia Civil officers have not risen at the same rate. In his judgement this “has left the Balearics without the necessary police protection and this is being shown by the increase in the crime rate”.

For his part, Socias maintains that the Balearics have a crime rate above both the European and Spanish averages due to the fact that nearly 11 million tourists come to the islands every year, especially in summer, which is also the time when the “floating” population increases.

Socias claimed that in 2005 there was a “significant fall” in the crime rate in the islands.

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