IN the face of a shortfall in manpower, the Local and National Police forces met yesterday to discuss a joint festive police operation.
The aim of yesterday's meeting, according to National Police sources, was to maximise resources over the Christmas holiday period in order to improve police services, reduce crime and increase public satisfaction. What is more, according to the National Police, such joint operations are the norm, but it has not stopped the Balearic Interior Minister, José María Rodríguez, lobbying central government over the serious lack of National Police and Civil Guard in the Balearics. The minister's appeal for talks with the central government delegate, Ramon Socias, to discuss the lack of police resources and the spiralling crime rate, have apparently fallen on deaf ears. This has forced the minister to take his quest to Madrid and the secretary of state for the Interior, José Antonio Alonso. Having received no reply to the letter he wrote to Socias at the end of last month, Rodríguez has asked Alonso for urgent talks to discuss the policing problem in the Balearics. In the meantime, the police will be focusing their attention on Palma over the next month with at least 20 patrol cars on the streets at any one time.
The number of foot patrols is also going to be stepped up, especially in the busy shopping areas, to prevent petty crime and provide extra help and assistance to the public if required. The second phase of the nation-wide crackdown on drinking and driving is also about to be launched this weekend with scores of check points being set up in and around Palma. The Christmas workload is going to come as a strain on the police forces.
Rodríguez maintains that the National Police and Civil Guard have a 50 percent shortfall in manpower. He says Madrid is continuing to gauge the security needs of the Balearics on the size of population some five years ago which was 750'000 inhabitants - not the one million living in the Balearics today. Madrid is also failing to take into account the millions of holidaymakers who visit the region. Rodríguez maintains that ensuring the protection and safety of the public and tourists is paramount to the Balearics.
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