Swieqi finally gets police station

Home affairs minister inaugurates two police stations in Swieqi and Pietà

The new Swieqi police station will be open 24 hours a day (Photo:Ray Attard/MediaToday)
The new Swieqi police station will be open 24 hours a day (Photo:Ray Attard/MediaToday)
Home affairs minister Manuel Mallia with Deputy Commissioner Ray Zammit and Swieqi mayor Noel Muscat (Photo:Ray Attard/MediaToday)
Home affairs minister Manuel Mallia with Deputy Commissioner Ray Zammit and Swieqi mayor Noel Muscat (Photo:Ray Attard/MediaToday)
The Pietá Police Station (Photo: John Pisani/MediaToday)
The Pietá Police Station (Photo: John Pisani/MediaToday)

The criminality stricken locality of Swieqi finally got a police station, which was officially inaugurated today by home affairs minister Manuel Mallia.

Swieqi residents and successive local councils have long been asking for a permanent police presence in the locality and this afternoon Mallia opened a police station, which will operate around the clock.

Situated in the new civic centre, the police station will provide a police presence in a locality which is afflicted by a high criminality rate. For years, residents complained of vandalism and theft of private residences and vehicles, with the delinquency increasing in the early hours when revellers would be returning to their vehicles of residencies after partying in the Paceville, the country’s main entertainment mecca.

Mallia explained that statistics show that Swieqi has a criminalty rate which is twice the national average, while the incidence of burglaries in residences is fivce times more than the national average.

Stressing that these statistics proved that the residents’ pleas to have a police station in Swieqi were “genuine,” Mallia said that the growing population, the presence of foreigners studying English in summer and Swieqi’s proximity to Paceville intensified the problem of criminality.

“We have listened to the people’s concerns and we have acted swiftly to open a police station which is fully equipped,” Mallia said, adding that the police presence will be strengthened by the deployment of officers on foot patrol in Swieqi and St Julian’s.

Mallia said that the police force will also be deploying its Rapid Intervention Unit on a regular basis to patrol the area.

“I want to see a bigger police presence everywhere, not only in Swieqi. The police must be the citizens’ friends,” he said, noting that this would lead to effective crime prevention.

Criminologist and consultant Dr Saviour Formosa, noted that apart from thefts and vandalism, the rate of sexual offences and domestic violence was on an upward trend. While warning against alarmism, he said “the number of cases is not higher than the national average, however it is our job to make sure that the rate does not grow.”

Swieqi suffered from crime by people who went to Paceville. Others parked in Swieqi and could observe the residents' patterns.

He also noted that the rate of domestic violence in Swieqi rose 12-fold over the past six years, although it was not higher than the national average. The increase could have been the case of better reporting, he said. He said the main crimes remained theft from cars, damage to cars and burglaries.

The minister who today also opened a new police station in Pietà, added that the police force was in the process of setting up a special constabulary unit made up of retired police officers who would be returning to the corps on a part time basis to “offer their experience and services to the community.”

The second new police station was opened in Guardamangia at the main gate of what used to be St Luke's Hospital.

Pietà residents have long been without a proper police station: in 2006 then home affairs minister Tonio Borg inaugurated a police station in Hookham Frere Street on 1 March - just 10 days before the local council elections. Two years later, in July 2008 the same police station was closed and since then Pietà has had no police station.

But after months of pressure and hard work, the current local council earmarked the necessary funds for the new police station.

 

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