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Police union boss in favour of random drug tests for police

Home affairs minister is mulling mandatory screening of police officers

tia_reljic
Tia Reljic
11 January 2018, 5:26pm
Police Union President Sandro Camilleri
Police Union President Sandro Camilleri
Random and mandatory drug screening of police officers should be done professionally and on the spot in order to ensure a clean and responsible police corp, president of the Police Officers Union, Sandro Camilleri, told MaltaToday.

“A police officer has certain responsibilities, and the police corp needs to be clean from any doubts, and clean from drug abuse itself.”

The inspector believes that drug tests on members of the corp should be conducted randomly and without warning, so as not to give individuals the chance to get clean in the meantime or otherwise interfere with the results.

Police officers are tested for drugs in the case of suspicions, but what often happens is that these tests take three weeks to process – and this hinders the efficiency of the tests and gives way for cheating, according to Camilleri.

For this reason, he says that screening of police officers should be random, ‘professional’, and ‘instantaneous’.

“I have always been clear about my position on drug testing. I wholeheartedly agree that random urine drug testing should take place within the corp,” he said. Camilleri insisted that tests should be carried out on the spot and without delay.

Although he said he is unsure about the legal implications of forcing police officers to take mandatory blood tests to check for drugs, if a urine test comes out positive, blood tests are also taken.

“Police need to adhere to a high standard of conduct,” the inspector said, and one way to enforce this is to put in place mandatory and random substance testing.

The inspector said that testing of new recruits should also be mandatory.

“As far as I know, this was the normal practice when I started out. It is not just an issue of illicit drugs,” he said. “If a police officer is on prescription medication which might affect their performance, it is important that the corp is made aware.”

Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia said that he will not be excluding the possibility of discussing new measures with the two police unions, Police Officers Union and Malta Police Association.

“We are considering doing random tests of members of the police force. We will be looking at standard procedures of other European countries,” Farrugia told this newspaper.

He also said that mandatory screening of all members of the police is also being considered.

The minister also believes that members of law enforcement should be held to higher standards of conduct than other individuals caught with drugs.

“The police are there for prevention, which is why these cases are taken more seriously.”

 

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Tia Reljic joined MaltaToday in 2017