New police anti-fraud policy instructs officers to register gifts even if refused

Police code of ethics last revised 18 years ago gets major overhaul • New police anti-fraud policy requires officers to register gifts

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa
Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa

Police officers who receive gifts will have to register them even if they are refused, according to a new anti-fraud policy Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa said.

The Gifts, Gratuities and Hospitality Register will ensure greater transparency, he said.

He was speaking at the launch of a new code of ethics for the police force.

“The code of ethics excludes no one, not even me. We cannot expect high standards of ethics if we don't take the first step ourselves,” he said at a press conference to unveil the code, which was last revised in 2002.

An integrity officer will offer advice on ethical dilemmas that may arise, apart from delving into deficiencies that may be flagged.
Gafa said that an internal policy regulating business interests held by police officers and part-time work was drafted to guide corps members.

The lack of proper regulation by the police force of part-time jobs held by its officers had been flagged as a deficiency by Greco, a Council of Europe body.

“It is impossible to make a whole list of compatible and incompatible jobs, but the guidelines are clear as to which part-time jobs are compatible or not with police work,” Gafa said.

He added that an evaluation board will determine whether business interests held by police force members could pose a conflict of interest.

The Police Commissioner said new legislation will allow for internal anonymous reporting to take place for cases involving fellow police officers.

“Reporting a colleague isn't easy. In the same way, a domestic violence victim finds it difficult to report a loved one, police find it difficult to report on fellow colleagues, which is why we will have a secure and anonymous reporting system,” he said.

Noting other issues flagged by Greco, Gafa said that an equality and diversity working group was set up to help increase female participation in the major crimes, traffic and K9 sections of the police force.

He said that an anti-fraud and corruption policy was published this month. 
“The force is made up of people in flesh and blood, who can fall into temptation. While there are policies that were taught from one generation to another, this policy makes it crystal,” he said.

Gafa added that in-house training to teach these policies and help officers refresh their knowledge of them was ongoing.

He said a more transparent system of recruitment and transfers between sections was introduced, which now sees the police commissioner act on recommendations.

“The Greco recommendations have all been implemented. The policies are all there but now we need to see them become part and parcel of the culture of the Malta police force,” he said. 

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said this administration wanted to reform the police force and make it more transparent and accountable.

“We are ready to change what needs to be changed and strengthen what needs strengthening… this new code of ethics is proof of a changing, modern police force that works close to citizens,” he said.