Joan Collins THE 2005 crime rate (49.3 penal offences per 1'000 inhabitants) makes Spain one of the most secure countries in the European Union, according to the Secretary of State for Security, Antoni Comacho, speaking yesterday. However, the Balearics have an above average crime rate and are among the regions with most crime. This figure, which includes data from the State Security Forces and Corps, was given by Comacho during his appearance in the Interior Commission of Congress. At this meeting he said that Spain is without doubt a more secure country than 18 months ago and that the crime rate is two points below that of 2002. Eleven autonomous regions are, he said clearly below the national average crime rate; another three, the Canaries, Andalucia and Catalonia, have slightly above the average; and just five (Madrid, Valencia, Ceuta, the Balearics and Melilla) have a crime rate above the national average. Although he recognised that the crime rate had risen by 0.4 percent in relation to 2004, he highlighted the fall in crimes such as murder and robbery, amongst others. After explaining that the crime rate in Spain is 20 points below the EU average, he said he was stunned by the Partido Popular's (PP) accusation that the Government had destroyed the security of Spain. He insisted that this was not true and accused the PP of constantly making a noise to unsettle the population. Comacho cited the 1.6 percent fall in the number of crimes in 2005 compared with 2004 and, as an example, said that robberies (which represent 36 percent of all crime) had fallen by 3.2 percent. At the same time, murders had fallen by 3.6 percent, 10 points below those committed in 2003 and the figure per 1'000 inhabitants had fallen to 3.34 as opposed to 3.65 in 2003. He also stressed the drop in youth crime, some 5.2 percent, with an average of 69.1 detainees for every 10'000 young people below the age of 18. As for illegal immigration, he highlighted the fall of 24.7 percent in the number of immigrants arriving in makeshift boats, the lowest figure since 1999.