The Palma municipal police force unveiled a plan yesterday to place more officers on the beat patrolling residential areas, away from the city centre. The move means that the city police are copying the highly successful British policing method of the “local bobby” abandoned in the 1970s as impractical. New police chief Joan Miquel Mut outlined his philosophy yesterday. Up to 60 officers will be allocated to this new task and will be specially trained. Yesterday's announcement comes after a similar policing method was introduced by the National Police who now have a greater presence in inner city districts, where the crime rate is high. “I want my officers to meet the public so that the public know that they are about and my officers just become another face in the neighbourhood,” the police chief said yesterday. As part of a major re-organisation of the municipal police force various elite units will disappear, with officers being re-assigned to the new “neighbourhood watch force.” The municipal police had been criticised for straying outside their territory by performing tasks more suited to officers of the National Police force. The new police chief also said that his officers will be undertaking all matters relating to traffic such as imposing fines and also controlling traffic. Mut said that his officers would be working more closely with their National Police and Civil Guard counterparts. He said that they would be undertaking combined operations. Palma Mayor Joan Fageda has always made law and order a top priority. The municipal police answer directly to the council and recently their budget has been substantially increased with the purchase of new equipment. But residents associations have demanded more officers on the beat and not patrolling the city in cars. The Federation of Palma resident associations has said that the only way to beat crime is with a greater visible presence of officers. In many cases the sight of two officers on foot will act as a major deterrent. The new neighbourhood watch force will naturally be supported by the council's social services departments. One of the main causes of crime in Palma at the moment is people stealing to buy drugs. Violent crime has actually fallen in the city but petty crime continues to be a problem, especially during the summer.

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