THE Balearic Islands extended a warm welcome yesterday to 153 new National Police Officers who have come to work in the region, with Central Government Delegate Ramon Socias praising the contribution that officers of the force are making to citizen security.

Eighty-five of the new arrivals are recruits direct from the Police Academy and another 59 are already-qualified officers who have requested a transfer from the mainland to the Balearics. Nine of the officers are Inspectors.

Accompanied by regional Police Chief Bartolomé Campaner, Socias said as part of his address that the National Police are one of the organisations most respected by Balearic citizens.

He expressed his admiration for a force which, he claimed, fights to keep the Islands a safe place, and gave a special mention to the Fraud Squad who he admitted were frequently having to work under “unpleasant” circumstances.

Responding to questions by journalists, Socias said that in 2004 when the Socialists came to power in Central Government, the number of National Police officers in the Balearics grew from 900 to 1'500. Socias described this as “clear evidence” that the Socialists were determined to “make the streets safe again” after eight years of a (centre-right) government who he insisted had “privatised” security.

Socias said that over the past seven years, delinquency has been on the decline in the Balearic Islands and that if anyone wanted to see the figures, he had ample ammunition against accusations of growing criminality in the region. “We're definitely on the right road,” said Socias, adding that in a tourist community such as the Balearic Islands, it was dangerous for politicians to use the issue of citizen security as an electoral weapon. He pointed out that there was an ever-increasing number of officers who were born in the Islands and after training, decided to remain in the region instead of transferring elsewhere.

Campaner echoed Socias' comment by claiming that there is therefore a growing number of officers who are able to speak Mallorquín or Catalan.