Opposition questions decision to allow reinstatement of police officers with criminal record

According to Home Affairs minister Michael Farrugia, if the offence is not considered a serious one, officers can be reinstated

Officers are precluded from being reinstated only when they have been found guilty of a 'serious' criminal offence, said the minister
Officers are precluded from being reinstated only when they have been found guilty of a 'serious' criminal offence, said the minister

Opposition MPs took Home Affairs minister Michael Farrugia to task over changes to the requirements for reinstatement in the Police Force which have taken place since March 2013.  

“We are talking about the police force here. What has prompted the police force to change the requirement for officers to have a clean criminal record,” asked Beppe Fenech Adami. "What message are we sending people out there? That it is acceptable for police officers to be criminals."

Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi originally asked Farrugia to list the changes made since March 2013, with the minister explaining that there had been five changes made in total, including a requirement for applicants to present their criminal record in cases where they have been found guilty of a criminal offence.

Questioned on whether the change made sense, Farrugia stressed that applicants guilty of a “serious criminal offence” were not eligible and it was only people who had committed minor offences who were given the chance to be reinstated. Farrugia added that while regulations were in place, every case was judged on its own merits.

At this point, Azzopardi asked whether theft and fraud were considered serious criminal offences, pointing out that in some cases, the courts did not quantify or explicitly state whether an offence was serious. He asked whether it would be the government who now decides which crimes were permissible.

Furthermore, he said that he was aware of an assistant commissioner who had been found guilty of harassing another police official, only for him to have been promoted to a position above his victim.

Farrugia said that as far as he knew “there was only one case where the person concerned was warned not the repeat the action”.

He insisted that officers guilty of serious crimes were not reinstated and that he did not think it was right for anyone found guilty of an office to be referred to as a criminal.

“God forbid we call anyone who has committed a small offence, a criminal,” said Farrugia. 

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