The Balearics need more police, is what regional President Francesc Antich told the Home Secretary, Angel Acebes, in Madrid yesterday. Antich travelled to Madrid accompanied by the central government delegate to the Balearics, the conservative candidate for Mayor of Palma, Catalina Cirer and the Balearic Interior Minister Josep María Costa. Antich told Acebes that there is a worrying shortfall in the number of National Police and Guardia Civil in the Balearics and that a much greater effort needs to be made by the central administrations to help fill the gaps. The main problems is that vacancies in both security forces are not being filled, quite simply because of the insufficient compensation paid for having to move to the Balearics where the cost of living is far higher than most other regions of Spain. The National Police force has been complaining about the lack of “top ups” on their wages for years and has been warning of a shortfall in applicants for work in the islands. Madrid has agreed to set up a body to co-ordinate between Palma, Madrid and the Home Office in the fight against crime, which over the past year has risen alarmingly in the Balearics. Antich, while welcoming the Home Secretary's commitment to fighting rising crime in the Balearics, also wants to see the new body resolve the problem of a lack of police in the region. Antich said that even once all the vacancies are filled, there will still be a need for larger police forces. The Balearics are, however, included in a new anti-crime wave in holiday resorts on Spain's Mediterranean coast which the Home Office recently put into effect. But Antich stressed in Madrid that the Balearics have witnessed one of the sharpest increases in crime this year “and when we're talking about one of the country's top tourist destinations, security is of the utmost importance,” he added. Antich has asked Acebes to introduced special police operations in the Balearics similar to those mounted in Madrid, Barcelona and the Canary Islands -such is the extent of the problem as the Balearic leader sees it. One of the solutions appears to be a greater role for the Guardia Civil, although Acebes has stipulated that their barracks and facilities need to be improved in the Balearics.

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