The Malta Police Force in its present form dates from a proclamation during the governorship of Sir Thomas Maitland (1813-1814). When Malta became a crown colony of the United Kingdom and Ireland by the Treaty of Paris, Maitland was appointed Governor and commander-in-chief of Malta and its dependencies by the Prince Regent’s Commission of 23 July 1813. On his appointment Maitland, embarked on many far reaching reforms, including the maintenance of Law and Order.
By Proclamation XXII of 1st July 1814, Maitland ordered and directed that all powers up to then exercised with respect to the administration of the police of the island of Malta and its dependencies were, after 12th July 1814 to be administered by the authorities under established procedures.
The police was to be divided into two distinct departments – the executive police and the judicial. The inspector general of police (Nowadays The Commissioner of Police) was to be the head of the executive police. The Magistrates for Malta and the Magistrates of Police for Gozo were to be the heads of the judicial police.
From 12th July 1814 onwards, the entire management and control of the executive police came under the immediate superintendence of the inspector general of police who received his orders from the governor.
After the grant of self-government in 1921, the police department became the responsibility of the Maltese government. The first minister appointed, who was responsible for justice and the police, was Dr Alfredo Caruana Gatto.
The Malta Police Force is one of the oldest police forces in Europe.
Role and responsibilities of the Police.
The Malta Police have a mixed responsibility in respect of its investigative role and national security.
In the investigative role the Malta police is legally bound to act upon the receipt of any information, report or complaint, and decide the respective natures of such information in order to treat accordingly.Reports could be subject of a criminal investigation or of a civil nature. One may also report for record purposes.The Police only investigate criminally related offences and usually do not interfere with civil cases.The Police investigate, collect evidence and bring offenders before a judicial authority (the court).In reality, the police are always in search of the truth within the parameters of its investigative powers combined with those afforded by the judicial authority.It is the Commissioner of Police who decides on what charges the offender is to be brought to court.In case the victim does not agree with the charges presented in court against the offender, he may challenge the Commissioner through a request made to a Magistrate.
Structure of the Malta Police Force
There are about 1,800 serving members, of whom there are around 850 district police officers in regions and these are generally related directly to community policing. The remaining members are posted in several sections of the force.
Malta is divided in two regions- Region A (South) and Region B (North). Each Region is headed by an Assistant Commissioner. Region A covers districts 1 to 5 while Region B covers districts 6 to 10.
Each district is headed by a Superintendent and there are several divisions in each district headed by an Inspector.Generally community policing is the duty of the district police, although all other branches of the force assist in this mission.There are also the specialised branches which form part of the Malta police force.
The members of the Force are entitled to a pension after 25 years of service. A number of police officers are also members of the International Police Association (IPA) and the Force itself has been a member of the Interpol since 1972.
Police powers & duties
It is the duty of the executive police to preserve public order and peace, to prevent and to detect and investigate offences, to collect evidence and to bring the offenders, whether principals or accomplices, before the judicial authorities.