PALMA JOAN Mesquida, the director general of Police and the Guardia Civil, said yesterday that tourists “are very sensitive to any phenomenon related to lack of security,” adding that this is why the ministry of the interior has increased funding in this field by 45 per cent.

He was speaking at the closing of the Tourism and Police course held at the Balearic University all this week, attended by representatives of the tourist sector, the police, the university and lawyers.

Mesquida said that the Balearics, together with Cantabria, headed the list for the biggest reduction of crime in the first eight months of the year, although he did not give figures.

He stressed the importance of security in the world of tourism, which he described as an economic sector which has both “a great strength and a great sensitivity.” He comñpared it to financial institutions “where any rumour can cause a crisis,” and said that tourism-security was like a “love-hate relationship.” Comparing crime figures for the European Union, Mesquida said that the rate of crime in Spain was 20 points below the average -- 50 crimes and misdemeanours per 1'000 inhabitants per year, compared to a European average of 70, or 105 in the United Kingdom.

Mesquida went on to say that a police presence is “fundamental for prevention,” and with this in mind, there has been a “notable increase” in the number of police and Guardia Civil officers. In fact, he said, this legislature “will go down in history” for the biggest increase ever in the number of officers.

The course, together with the exhibitions in the Parc de la Mar and the Casal Balaguer (uniforms and weapons), mark Police Week, which culminates today with a parade in the Avenida Antonio Maura at 12 noon.