Ray Zammit, Manuel Mallia deny new performance contract ‘undermines Police autonomy’

Malta Police Association’s observations ‘are valid’ but there will be ‘no interference’ by the Executive, Home Affairs Minister says

Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia and Acting Police Commissioner Ray Zammit have both denied the new conditions of service will place the top posts within the Police Force under the effective control of the Executive.

The Malta Police Association (MPA) yesterday voiced its objection to the new agreement signed between the Office of the Prime Minister and the Home Affairs Ministry regulating the appointments of the Commissioner of Police, the Deputy Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner.

The new document states that these appointments “are to be made on a performance agreements at par with headship positions […] Hence, it is clarified that these appointments will no longer be considered as grades.”

The MPA argued that whoever is set to occupy the top posts within the Police Force will be “under the effective control of the Executive, because it will be at the Executive’s discretion to determine the how long the top officials will retain their posts”.

But according to the Home Affairs, while acknowledging the “valid observations” of the MPA, said this would not lead to interference by the Executive.

“The Police Force is an autonomous body and it will remain so. On the other hand, it is important to keep assessing the performance of these top officials. What is wrong in ensuring that the people in these grades meet the standards throughout their career and that, the enthusiasm and promising performance shown in the run-up to their promotion, is retained?”

Mallia added that the Ministry is set to meet the Association to discuss their concerns. He insisted that talks were held with the Police Force’s top echelons but no contracts have yet been signed.

On his part, Acting Commissioner Zammit also denied accusations by the MPA that the agreement had been signed behind their backs.

“This is about the top ranks and it shouldn’t scare anyone. It only increases the level of responsibility in the work carried out. This is something new and discussions are ongoing,” he said.

According to the MPA, the new regulations were putting the Police Force at par with other civil entities, “a comparison that should not be made”.

It is of utmost importance that the highest officials within the force  are not conditioned by the fear of being fired from their roles if they take a decision which does not suit the Executive,” the MPA said.

“[The government] is undermining the independence, integrity and autonomy of the Police Force by weakening the Police Force and undermining the people’s trust. This agreement is bringing about an unprecedented change within the Police Force.”

The MPA has officially requested an urgent meeting of the Police Negotiation Board, according to the Police Act, to study the matter.

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