Two years ago, when launching a so-called transformation strategy covering the period 2020-2025, the police committed to “a more positive working environment” for its workforce. What prevails – admittedly, with three more years to go – are police stations in such a pitiful state that they have been likened to a “house of horror”.
This state of affairs can only create a body of disillusioned and unmotivated men and women, most of whom go out of their way every day to serve society as best they can against all odds. And this only in relation to the physical infrastructure of their workplace.
Imagine what they must go through when the body they are so loyal to is discredited by so many for chasing the fry while the big fish and the long-tentacled octopus continue their feeding frenzy.
In his introduction to the strategy document, police commissioner Angelo Gafà spoke of wasting no time in embarking on “a few key initiatives”.
Concrete steps, he said, would be taken “so that in five years we will be a proud police organization with a high level of public support”.
Judging by what the Malta Police Union has just said, that remains a pipe dream.
“In the third year out of five of a strategy that is going nowhere except policies that have wreaked havoc across the department,” the union lamented, “we still see no plan for the field to of the police get a complete overhaul and our police stations really look like such and not a horror house.
Imagine our agents spending 12 hours in this type of environment. What little motivation an officer might have left will quickly evaporate.
He published photographs showing the state of police stations in Msida, Valletta and St Julian’s. For the record, since the images were published, work has been undertaken at other stations but the union wants to make sure it was not just a “rapid reaction cosmetic exercise”.
This is, indeed, what the populations, who depend on the police for their safety and security, also hope for.
Because, as Calum Steele, President of the European Police Confederation, commented in May, police stations that “resemble offices from the 1950s and 1960s” are not likely to guarantee the best police service.
All staff should feel valued and supported. They must be able to perform their duties in an environment that preserves their quality of life.
This is what the transformation strategy aimed for when it was unveiled in September 2020, but the situation on the ground is far from the same.
In a way, the police commissioner got his hands dirty when he said in the introduction that having written the project proposal himself, “there is complete assurance and commitment as to full implementation of this strategy over the next five years. ”.
Two precious years have been lost, certainly on the eighth objective of the strategy, which aims to improve the quality of life of the members of the force.
The body, according to the Malta Police Union, is experiencing “total demotivation”, officers are leaving and others are facing increasing stress.
Of course, much more needs to be done, both infrastructural and organizational, to achieve the lofty goal of the updated police mission statement: to provide a professional and trusted police service to ensure the safety and safety in partnership with the community.
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