The Malta Independent 21 October 2021, Thursday

Police trust rating up to 60% one year on from launch of transformation strategy

Giuseppe Attard Monday, 4 October 2021, 19:05 Last update: about 16 days ago

The five-year long transformation strategy for the Malta Police Force implemented last year started bearing fruit as trust rating by the public increased from 49% to 60%.

During the publication of the progress report of the transformation strategy 2020-2025, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said that “this transformation strategy was published a year ago with the aims of keeping the ministry together with the police force accountable of what is proposed and promised compared to what is actually enacted.”

The main aims of the actual strategy are to increase the trust rating the general public has towards the Police Force. Although the current percentage is that of 60% in Malta, this falls short of the European average, which stands at 69% trust in local enforcement.

“The police force has to adapt to modern times while also being prepared for the future. The easiest thing I could have done as a minister is move things along according to the status quo, but the transformation strategy was a more secure way of doing things,” Camilleri said.

He also said that the public can already feel the changes that are being made. These changes include the introduction and implementation of various policies, new services such as the domestic violence unit, and also a change in the management structures of the force in general.

“In the past months, together with police commissioner Angelo Gafa, new measures have been launched such as body cams, new specifically built police cars and community policing, among others. The government has not only helped the police force financially but also through investing in quality education and training,” Camilleri said.

“The main aim of improving the trust rating in the police force is being achieved and a confirmation of this is the Eurobarometer statistics which show a significant increase.”

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa spoke more in depth about the key changes that were made and the drastic effects they had on the police force in general.

Gafa started off by stating that “the transformation strategy is not a simple check list of things we have to do. It is a constant continuous process of enacting change and adapting to the times.”

“The important thing is that change is not being done for the sake of change but in order to make the police force a more relevant office in the dynamic environment we live in.”

The emphasis on professionalism and trustworthiness in the community are at the forefront of Gafa’s movement of change in the Police force.

“Community policing is a testament to this. With a smile on my face, I can say that by 2023, all communities in Malta will benefit from the community policing scheme.”

Gafa explained that trust is the most important factor of the Police force moving forward. He said that, “only 2,300 people currently work in the police force as sworn officers. This is not enough to cover the whole country at all times, that’s why we need the trust of the people in order to help us get things done efficiently and effectively.”

Having a police force which is high in the trust rating, flexible and innovative are the three key pillars this strategy aims to accomplish, Gafa explained.

“This can be done through multiple factors many of which we acted upon them in the last year.”

Through consistent and transparent communication, the Malta police force has enacted anti-corruption measures within ht force itself in order to improve accountability.

Changes enacted in the statute allow police officers to report other officers on negligence of responsibility. “This is only allowed now after the necessary changes were made,” Gafa said.

After the introduction of measures such as the internal audit department and mandatory drug tests, proper trust in the police force is no longer an impossible task, Gafa said.

In order to further strain out weaknesses in the force, Gafa announced that together with organisations such as the National Statistics office, surveys would be conducted and published to identify weak areas and show the transparency of the police force.

Another important aspect of the regeneration of the Police force which Gafa mentioned was the quality of work which police officers would receive.

“We want people to enter the force not because of the pay but because of the professionalism which the force has to offer.”

Numerous measures have been introduced into the force throughout the past year in order to tackle this issue, Gafa said.

The introduction of handheld devices, MoU agreements with the University of Malta and tracked police cars aimed at decreasing bureaucracy were just some of the measures put in place.

“The MoU agreement signed with the University of Malta has provided programmes of studies of high quality to out police officers. Through this the training and studies an officer receives is recognised by an official institution, adding to the professional aspect of becoming a police officer.”

In his final statement Gafa said that, “If all this was accomplished in one year amidst a pandemic, I can’t wait to see what will be accomplished in the next four years.”

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