Updated | 37 traffic cops arrested amid overtime abuse investigation

MaltaToday has learnt that police officers from the traffic branch were receiving payments for extra duty on various road work projects but failing to turn up • 37 traffic police arrested, five of whom granted police bail

The police traffic branch is under investigation over widespread abuses
The police traffic branch is under investigation over widespread abuses

Updated at 3:45pm

A total of 37 officers from the police corps’ traffic division have been arrested amid an investigation in overtime abuse.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, the police said that, of the 37, five have since been released on police bail.

The traffic section’s superintendent resigned yesterday, the police said, confirming reports that superintendent Walter Spiteri had stepped down after coming under investigation for his role in the suspected overtime fraud.

The police said that a contingency plan has been triggered to ensure the traffic division’s role continues normally.

Police from other divisions have been called in to fill in for the arrested officers, which LESA and Transport Malta are also assisting.

Traffic police paid for extra duty which they never did

Police officers from the traffic branch were receiving payments for extra duty on various road work projects but failing to turn up, MaltaToday has learnt.

The widespread abuse was uncovered following an internal police investigation that was prompted by a whistleblower.

It is understood that officers from the traffic branch were paid thousands in extra duty payments as part of contracted work by Infrastructure Malta.

Sources close to the investigation said some officers would not turn up but still get paid in a scheme that also involved high-ranking officers.

The investigation also revealed that most motorbikes used by the police had their tracking devices removed or disabled, making it hard to pinpoint their location.

Home Affairs Minister, Byron Camilleri
Home Affairs Minister, Byron Camilleri

A police statement yesterday evening confirmed that 30 police officers had been arrested and that a magisterial inquiry has been opened.

Sources said the investigation, which was entrusted to the Economic Crimes Unit, used sophisticated methods to trace the location of police officers, matching this with their extra duty detail.

The investigation has taken hours of work to piece together a comprehensive picture of abuse.

However, it appears that this was not the only abuse perpetrated by officers in the traffic branch and the investigation is expected to cast a wider net.

In some instances, officers were receiving payments for extra duty on private jobs by skiving from work.

Soon after becoming Prime Minister last month, Robert Abela requested that two police officers forming part of his security detail be transferred back to the police force.

The two officers came from the traffic branch and were removed from Abela’s security detail the moment the Prime Minister was made aware of the internal investigation.

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri yesterday said that police investigations were still underway and any decisions on whether suspended traffic cops will be sacked will be taken after those involved are charged in court.

The situation has left the police force with a veritable problem of manpower in the traffic branch, given the number of people being investigated.

However, Camilleri said a contingency plan has been set in place for the absence of these officers. “We will ensure continued enforcement of the law in our streets,” he said, adding officers from other police branches will be drafted in to provide the necessary support.

The police force has appealed for information from the public over abusive practices by traffic policemen, asking for any information to be submitted confidentially at its internal investigations unit, on 22942201 or email [email protected]

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