Biggest fall in crime in 20 years, minister claims
16 January 2004
MADRID – Crime fell by more than three percent in 2003 – the most significant reduction in 20 years, claimed Spain’s Interior Minister Friday.
Angel Acebes said the total number of crimes fell by 3.32 percent last year.
The minister claimed that this reduction was the most significant in the past 20 years.
But the number of murders rose by 2.8 percent in the cities and by 0.5 percent in rural areas.
In a review of crime in Spain last year, Acebes explained that the Guardia Civil, which is Spain’s national police force, had achieved important results in its priority targets in the past year – especially in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.
He added that changes in the law will help to reduce organised crime, but did not expand on how this would happen.
Acebes said that thanks to the state security forces in the fight against ETA “democracy had advanced against terror”.
He also put the fall in crimes down to improved police efficiency in 2003.
In respect of the type of crimes, Acebes said there was a fall in the number of street robberies (3.3 percent), aggravated robberies (12.39 percent) and theft of vehicles (11.17 percent).
The Guardia Civil said last year it had answered 1.6 million emergency calls – a rise of 15.6 percent.
They had arrested 8,030 suspects in connection with drugs offences – a 17 percent fall on the previous year.
With regard to immigration offences, the number of people stopped in boats at sea trying to reach Spain from Africa had risen by 47 percent.
In 2002, 7,341 people were stopped by the Guardia Civil, but this number rose to 10,791 thanks to a new security system operated by the force’s maritime branch.
There were 24 suspected ETA terrorists arrested, 18 during one operation.
Acebes said in the fight against organized crime, 203 gangs – involving 2,220 suspects – had been identified by police. He said 1,225 arrests were made.
Thirty percent of these gangs were made up of Spaniards, 40 percent of foreigners and the remaining 30 percent were a mixture of the two.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news