THE Balearics had the highest crime rate in Spain last year, with 78.8 per cent infractions per 1'000 inhabitants, followed by Madrid with 70.8 offences per 1'000 inhabitants.
The figures were supplied by the central government in answer to a written question submitted by Alicia Sanchez Camacho, a Partido Popular (PP) Member of Parliament.
She had asked for crime figures relating to the years 2005 and 2006.
The reply, however, did not include figures for Catalonia.
The regions with the lowest crime rates were Teruel and Zamora with 18.1 and 18.3 infractions per 1'000 inhabitants respectively.
The reply indicated that the crime rate went down in 26 provinces between 2005 and 2006. The biggest drops were in Melilla and Huelva.
There was no change in Almeria and Zamora but the crime rate went up in all the other provinces, particularly Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Navarra.
The Balearics also had the doubtful privilege of topping the crime list for 2005, when the rate was slightly higher than last year, at 79.8 offences per 1'000 inhabitants. Second and third places in 2005 were taken by the North African enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta, with 77.1 and 72.2 crimes per 1'000 inhabitants, and fourth was Alicante, with 71.6.
The report will come as bad news to the local authorities who have been making efforts to improve the efficiency of the law and order forces and bring them up to strength.
Earlier this week, 30 new cars were delivered to the National Police, which already has a fleet of 160 cars and 14 motorbikes.
New police stations have been opened in Manacor in Majorca and Ciutadella in Minorca, and negotiations are underway with the town councils of Ibiza and Mahon with a view to opening new police stations there.