STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
A NEW section of the police force of the Balearic Islands was officially launched yesterday, specially created to fight organised crime.
Joan Mesquida, overall commander-in-chief of the region's Police and Guardia Civil said yesterday that the new crack unit which will start operations at some stage between 15th and 30th of December, would come under the umbrella of the National Balearic Police and initially incorporate between 15 and 20 officers.

Although Mesquida had preferred to wait until the presentation of the new unit before releasing more details, he explained that currently in Spain there are five groups specialising in organised crime of this nature within the National Police force and another five under the auspices of the Guardia Civil. One of the latter operates is in the Balearics.

Accompanied by the central government delegate in the Balearic Island, Ramón Socías, Mesquida was speaking on the occasion of welcoming 88 new officers to the Balearic National Police Force. Of these 88 new recruits, 38 will be stationed in Palma (17 of them at the airport); 10 in Ciudadella on Minorca; 26 in Ibiza; 6 in Mahón on Minorca; and 8 at Manacor on Majorca. With their arrival, the total number of officers in the Balearics amounts to 1'500.

The number of officers in the Islands has grown from 1'145 in 2004 to 1'500 in 2007 - an increase of 30 percent. Similarly the joint staffing levels of the combined police and Guardia Civil forces has also grown by 30 percent. Extra manpower, claims Mesquida, has underpinned the reduction of crime in the Balearic Islands within the auspices of the National Police by 3.07 percent and by 6.8 percent within those of the Guardia Civil.

Joan Mesquida acknowledged however that such figures are open to fluctuation because they do not take into account the Islands' floating population, that is to say the eleven or so million tourists which come to the Balearics each year. The commander-in-chief said he had asked the new officers to make a point of coordinating their activities with other branches of the police force in the Islands in order to confront elements that threaten the region's peace and security amongst them - national and international terrorism. “There is no corner of Spain,” he asserted that was free from the threat of horrendous crimes perpetrated by the Basque terrorist organisation, ETA. On the international front, Mesquida said that in December, a new plan to protect major infrastructure will be up and running.

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