Staff Reporter

ABOUT 80 percent of the illegal immigrants that have arrived in the Balearics on small craft from Africa have been repatriated.
Before the year is out, a fixed radar will be in place to detect further attempts by illegal immigrants to enter Spain through the Balearics, according to the Director General of the Guardia Civil and Police, Joan Mesquida.

Mesquida added that though boats carrying illegal immigrants had started to arrive in the Balearics, the problem “had not reached the dimensions experienced by the Canary Islands”.

Mesquida explained that the fight to prevent illegal immigrants arriving in Spain began before they left their native countries. The security forces were involved in patrols off the coasts of Mauritania, Senegal and Morocco, he said. He added that fixed and mobile radar served to detect the arrival of these boats and, in many cases, “to save the lives of their occupants”. The third stage in the fight against illegal immigration, he said, consisted of establishing mechanisms to repatriate people.

Mesquida, who was taking part in a press conference in Palma, also addressed the issue of crime in the Balearics. He said that over the last four years the number of Guardia Civil and members of the National Police in the Islands had risen by 28 percent or 758 in numeric terms.

He did not say how many more may be deployed here in the coming years. Mesquida said crime had decreased, not just in the Balearics, but in the whole of Spain.

He said the reason why the crime rate in the Balearics was higher per capita than the rest of Spain was due to the almost 12 million visitors that arrive annually. “The important thing is to lower these figures,” said the Director General. He said that this would be accomplished with more officers, specialised police units and an improvement in equipment.