THE Spanish Cabinet yesterday approved a new single high command for the National Police Force and the Guardia Civil, which up to now had been governed by separate directors.
The top post has been given to Majorcan Joan Mesquida, who is at the moment head of the Guardia Civil.
When announcing the decision, Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said that although there will only be one director in charge of the security forces, their organisation and responsibilities have not been altered.
Two new departments have been created within the force: International Relations and Foreigners, which will include the departments that deal with immigration and will be headed by Arturo Abelló, and Suppport for Victims of Terrorism, headed by José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes.
Rubalcaba said that the new structure completes the task undertaken by his predecessor, José Antonio Alonso, to co-ordinate the security forces in a more efficient way. Co-ordination in police work is synonymous with efficiency, he said yesterday.
The new unified command and the national centre of anti-terrorism will have a new place in the Interior Ministry's structure and will be answerable directly to the minister.
They will be complemented by a committee for the fight against organised crime and a department which will compile statistics.
The Cabinet also approved two draft bills on security. One will allow the pooling of the four existing DNA registers and will give access to regional police forces by agreement. The other will oblige telecommunications companies to keep their register of telephone and internet communications for a year, and to compile a register of users of prepaid cards.
Rubalcaba said that both laws will respect citizens' rights.
He added that the DNA data base will be only for delinquents or suspects, and samples will be obtained with the person's permission or by court order. It will only hold DNA data on identity, not genetic profiles. The phone register will only be accessible to the Police and Guardia Civil with a court order.
Security force sources said that this amalgamation of the leadership of both forces had been proposed by the PSOE (Spanish Socialists) in their election manifesto.
This was the Socialists election manifesto in 2004, which proposed the creation of a single director for both the Police Force and Guardia Civil.