Paceville bouncers were supposed to have been ‘regulated’. What happened?

Clearly, there has been an intensification of the street-crime associated with Paceville, over the years: both in terms of numbers, and also the severity of the violence itself

I imagine most of you will have already seen the latest viral video, of a man being beaten to a pulp by several bouncers, as he lay senseless outside one of Paceville’s popular nightclubs (Havana, in this instance).

And if, like me, you have been following local news for the past three-or-so decades… you will surely have experienced an odd sensation of ‘deja-vu’. Where, oh where, have we seen this sort of thing before? And how often, for that matter?

Let’s see now.  This is from an article published in July 2017: “Paceville bouncers have been caught on camera beating up two men in an apparently unprovoked attack that happened two months ago.

“The attack […] left a Syrian and Jordanian man aged 29 and 33 respectively with serious injuries and needing multiple stitches. The two men were allegedly attacked after being refused entry into the nightclub.”

This, on the other hand, is from an article dated October 31, 2019:

“The issue of bouncer licences [more of which later] was cast in the national spotlight earlier this week after an unlicensed nightclub security worker was charged on Tuesday with grievously injuring a man.

“The victim, Maciej Zyluk, suffered blunt force trauma when he was kicked in the head during a brutal beating that was caught on camera. A number of other bouncers allegedly involved in the incident are still under investigation.”

Later, in August 2020, this newspaper reported yet another ‘caught-on-camera’ Paceville fight: “No arrests were made in Paceville on Friday night after a large brawl between revellers and the bouncers from the Havana establishment took place late at night.

“Preliminary investigations show that the men had twice been ejected from the club following an argument inside it, after which the fight broke out.

“Bottles flew and glass was shattered wilfully by antagonised clubbers, whom police believe are of Syrian nationality, as they engaged with the club’s bouncers, which police said are mainly of Eastern European origin.”

And, what do you know? Two years later, footage emerges of yet another ‘fight’ – this time, more closely resembling a full-scale riot – outside the same Havana nightclub, slap-bang in the heart of Paceville.

This is how it was reported on June 26, 2022: “The footage shows a large group of people fighting a popular nightclub’s security. […] The perpetrators can be seen shouting at Havana’s bouncers, before a man throws punches. One of the men behind the attack is seen throwing a metal barrier at the security.”

Naturally, all four of those articles came complete with the relevant footage – taken either by CCTV cameras, or mobile phones – and as such, they can all still be viewed online today.

Now: to be fair, only the first two can really be said to ‘mirror’ the circumstances behind this week’s fracas… even if the parallels are rather (ahem) ‘striking’, in all three.

They all concern individual men, of foreign nationality, being singled out for vicious assault by multiple assailants (all bouncers employed the same, or similar, nightclubs: some ‘of Eastern European origin’; others Maltese).

The other two videos, however, seem to illustrate an altogether different (though not exactly ‘opposite’) side of the same coin. Here, we actually see the bouncers of said nightclubs, being subject to violent attacks themselves; and while we have no indication of how either of those fights actually started… well, it doesn’t really matter that much in the end, does it?

Whether by illustrating the sheer violence, that some (and I would like to think, ‘not all’) Paceville bouncers are capable of inflicting, on their singled-out victims… or whether by illustrating the sheer DANGER, of the circumstances these same bouncers must also often find themselves in… it all boils down to the same thing, really.

As the police themselves reported, in 2020: “[there had been] 400 fights leading to injuries, over the past four years”; and “the highest number of fights resulting in bodily harm took place in 2019, when the police reported 135. In 41 of those cases, grievous injuries were reported, while weapons of some sort were used in 25 cases…”

Now: I don’t have corresponding statistics for ‘fights resulting in bodily harm’, dating all the way back to the 1990s (when last I roamed Paceville’s streets myself)… but I can assure you that there would NOT have been anywhere close to ‘135, in one year’ (41 of which, causing grievous injuries).

Simply put – and without wishing to either ‘overdramatise’ the implications of those videos; or even point fingers of blame at any presumed ‘perpetrators’ – clearly, there has been an intensification of the street-crime associated with Paceville, over the years: both in terms of numbers, and also the severity of the violence itself.

All of which, naturally, brings me back to the question I asked in the headline. One other thing that most – if not all – of those clips also have in common, is that:

a)    They all caused massive public outcry, at the time;

b)    They resulted in widespread calls for a ‘reform’ in the licensing system of bouncers (including, inter alia, by the nightclubs’ own representative body, the Chamber of SMEs); and lastly…

c)    They were all met by solemn promises, from the government at the time (and Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri, in particular) of a ‘new law to regulate bouncers’.


In November 2019, for instance, the Independent reported that: “The drafting of a new law that would see the creation of a regulator on bouncer services in entertainment establishments is at an advanced stage, the Home Affairs Ministry [said].”

In the accompanying interview, Camilleri himself even told us that: “A number of meetings were held with persons and entities involved holistically. It is being estimated that the law will be presented in the first months of next year…”

In other words: he promised to deliver a whole new law to regulate bouncers (in Paceville, and presumably everywhere else), by February/March 2020, at the earliest… and he did that FOUR YEARS AGO, almost to the day!

So, um… what happened, exactly? Where are these ‘new regulations’, that were supposed to have been drafted specifically to ‘avoid’ – or at best, ‘minimise’ – precisely the sort of lawless mayhem, described above?

Well, your guess is as good as mine, because – as far as I can make out, anyway – that was the last we ever heard of this supposed reform. Which also means, by the way, that the previous regulations concerning ‘security in nightlife entertainment’ – introduced almost 12 years ago, in 2012 – are still the only ones currently in place.

And in case you’re wondering: they include that “bouncers are required to have five years of police, armed forces, prison guard or private security experience and a specialised licence following training.”

Now: I imagine you probably already know that one of the two bouncers arrested this week, was later revealed to be ‘unlicenced’. And apart from making it abundantly clear, that even these (antiquated) regulations are still not even being enforced, all these years later… this revelation also raises some rather bizarre questions, of its own.

OK, let’s try and work this one out for ourselves. So far, two bouncers have been arrested and charged with violent assault – a 21-year-old Albanian, and a 26-year-old Maltese national. Which of those two do you reckon is the least likely to have acquired ‘five years of police, armed forces (etc.) experience’, followed by a ‘special training course’?

Is it: a) the Albanian, who – being both foreign (thereby automatically disqualified from service with national security forces), as well as ‘barely even an adult’ – wouldn’t even have had the TIME, to possibly accomplish all of the above?

Or is it; b) the 26-year-old Maltese one, who – in theory, at least – potentially COULD have (but evidently didn’t)?

Yep, folks, you guessed it! It turns out that the 26-year-old Maltese bouncer was actually the ‘unlicensed’ one, of the two; leading us to inevitably conclude that…

… well, one of two possibilities, actually. Either the Malta Police Force must have granted a ‘special bouncer’s license’, to someone who clearly (for age-reasons alone) doesn’t meet even the most basic requirements, for the job at hand…

… or else [Note: and I don’t want to speculate too much, on what is after all an ongoing case], it may just be another example of the same old ‘loophole’, already identified – by the Chamber of SMEs, no less - way, way back in 2019.

Namely, that: “a number of security firms were providing nightclubs with ‘bouncers by another name’. These security workers would sign contracts as ‘cloakroom attendants’, ‘hosts’ or ‘door managers’ but would, in fact, be working as security personnel.”

As always, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. One thing, however, is certain. The ‘reform’ that Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri once promised us (but never delivered), was all along intended – IN HIS OWN WORDS, please note! – “to address what stakeholders had described as the main obstacle to obtaining a licence.” (i.e., the same loophole, indicated above).

So at the risk of an almost word-for-word repetition, of how I concluded one of my own earlier articles on the subject, back in July 2022:

Whose responsibility is it, anyway, to address Malta’s widely-known nightlife security issues, through legislation?

Is it: a) the Government of Malta (and Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri, in particular)?

Or is it; b) the bouncers of Havana Nightclub, slap-bang in the heart of Paceville itself?

I mean, come on. It really isn’t all that difficult, you know…