Opposition claims amendments to Police Act risk weakening Force

Shadow home affairs minister says the opposition cannot back ‘superficial amendments’

Parliament is debating amendments to the Police Act
Parliament is debating amendments to the Police Act

Proposed changes to the Police Act were strictly cosmetic and some would even weaken the Police Force and create more problems than they solved – as was the declared aim of the amendments, shadow home affairs minister Beppe Fenech Adami said on Monday.

Fenech Adami was speaking in parliament in the second reading of a bill proposing changes to the Police Act, presented by Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela.

He said the opposition could not agree with the government’s plans to do away with the previous legislation and replace with a new Act based on the same old Police Act, but with some superficial amendments.

He also questioned the minister’s claims that the government had listened closely in a consultation process it had carried out, since – he claimed – the opposition’s many suggestions, including those on how to appoint a police commissioner, were all ignored.

Fenech Adami said that this government had degraded the police force so much that it had already gone through five different police commissioners in less than four years.

He also said senior police officers were led to seek redress in court for what they described as gross injustices in promotion exercises within the Force.

“Only today, an assistant commissioner applied in Court for a prohibitory injunction to stop the appointment of a new deputy commissioner.

Fenech Adami was referring to AC Antoine Casha, who claimed in court that a selection board which considered applications for appointment to deputy commissioner – and headed by Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar – had refused to give him a breakdown of the result by category

Earlier, Abela said that the proposed amendments provided for training across the board for all eligible members of the police, including civilian employees.

“Promoting career opportunities within the Force will attract persons that are intent on a long career with the Police Force, instead of only those after a monthly salary alone,” Abela said.

The minister said the bill also intended to provide the police with all the tools necessary to provide a better service to the public, as well as the technology and tools necessary to help in their work.

He said a larger police presence in the communities was called for, that people needed to feel the presence of the police and that the citizenry needed to be reassured that the police was there for them in the case of any eventuality.

More in National