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MALTATODAY 10 July 2022

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15 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 10 JULY 2022 NEWS should be telling the minister not to do something that is pa- tently wrong, to protect that same minister! If a perm-sec does not have the guts to do it, then they must think that the minister will get away with it..." Hyzler says that it should be permanent secretaries who are also acting as guardians of the code of ethics. And it is in this miasma of political appoint- ments that suddenly, when private secretaries replace civil servants, that persons of trust become part of the phalanx of gatekeepers for ministers' wrongdoings. "And then who will report these same people... if not someone from the gener- al public, like Arnold Cassola," Hyzler says, tipping his hat to the indefatigable independent politician, a frequent name in the Standards' office's inbox. Hyzler says a culture change must happen now in Malta, and it is useless to dwell on the past of previous Nationalist ad- ministrations. "Today we don't have a register of gifts, the only restriction being that a min- ister cannot accept a gift that influences their decisions. We proposed a €250 limit which the OECD said is too high! In truth, our limits must be realis- tic otherwise these restrictions won't fly." Hyzler only rues that one important piece of unfinished business – ministerial salaries that reflect the gravitas of the job – seems to be something the government will not touch with a bargepole. And the issue of proper salaries is intimately tied with the need to introduce proper rules for gift-giving, lobbying, and a rigorous decla- ration of assets "I don't understand... minis- ters seem pleased to appoint consultants who get paid more than they do. But that pro- motes the idea that... well, maybe they're getting their money from somewhere else. And remember that they also oppose declaring their spouses' incomes in some cases in their declaration of interests." Low salaries are also a prob- lem for backbench MPs, which may be why they are often given government jobs. "The solution is certainly not inventing jobs that don't exist, which creates an un-level playing field with the Opposition, and also con- flicts with the Constitution... that is why we need full-time MPs with support from proper parliamentary assistants." NICOLE MEILAK SUPERINTENDENT Melvyn Camilleri has played down the notion that Paceville is becoming a more violent space over the years despite the not uncommon factor of brawls at night. Camilleri, who supervises the police dis- trict in St Julian's, said he was more likely to attribute concerns about Paceville to a 'moral panic' that stems from people seeing something out of the ordinary and making it out to be a wider threat that it actually is – often due to increased media coverage on the issue in question. "In a normal night we could have 10,000 or 15,000 people in Pace- ville. When you consid- er the amount of people in a really tight space, I'd say there is a prob- lem – but it's not the standard issue for Pace- ville." Camilleri, stationed at St Julian's since last Au- gust, supervises other police officers in their duties. But since then, he feels the moral panic around Paceville has been exacerbated by "the post-COVID effect". "We got used to two years of not hav- ing this sort of news. In 2018 and 2019, with bars operating in full swing, we saw much of the same behaviour... I wouldn't say Paceville is a violent place. There are brawls and clashes anywhere where there is entertainment, especially considering that the night economy goes on till 4am and 5am," Camilleri said. No gangs in Paceville, yet Camilleri adds that brawls in Paceville don't tend to follow a particular pattern, in turn ruling out the idea of gangs wreak- ing havoc in the area. "We haven't seen the phenomenon of gangs in Paceville yet. It has happened abroad, and we've seen peo- ple who are part of groups, but I wouldn't say there is a gang against another, or that there's tribalism in Paceville. What we have seen are separate incidents, and most often the people fuelled by alcohol and drugs. "When there's no pattern, that is in itself more taxing on the police force. If we see a pattern, such as these things happening mostly on Saturday nights, we can bolster the situation on that day from beforehand. But we've had brawls happening on Mon- days and Tuesdays." More so, whenever an ambulance is called on site in Paceville, it is most of- ten due to intoxication rather than injury. "They're often young adults, such as 18 and 19-year-olds, who pass out and have to be seen by a medical professional." But Camilleri said that there is something to be said for the type of crowd that goes to Paceville. "Tourists visit Paceville, es- pecially young tourists. The crowd is dif- ferent from Valletta, where you still have entertainment till late at night but the dif- ference in crowd is noticeable. "I wouldn't say there are particular per- sons or groups that are problematic. There are particular people, who are usually in a group of three or four, who are trouble- some. These are normally marked by the club bouncers. Sometimes they pass us on the information and we tackle it as a police force, but most of the time that informa- tion is not passed over, and they're tackled by simply kicking them out of the venues. That's one area where we can cooperate with the internal security." Bouncers and CCTV Camilleri pointed out that bouncers are licensed officers whose role is to enforce security inside the premises and work as doormen. But he insists they don't often take the law into their own hands when identifying a rowdy club-goer. "While we are concentrated on St George's Road and St Rita's steps, brawls do happen in other areas. They're of a different nature – usually smaller and be- tween young adults." For Camilleri, the pertinent issue with Paceville is not the crowd or the nightlife, but rather the environmental design of the space. "In our case, nightlife is concentrated in two, literally three narrow roads," he says. "Rubbing around with other people, usu- ally intoxicated, creates tension. Literally trivial arguments blow up with other peo- ple defending you if in group or attacking others if they're in a group." In 2018 government plans were under- way to set up a system of CCTV cameras in the major areas of Paceville. However, the system was going to employ facial recog- nition, raising privacy concerns. Camilleri said that having a CCTV system in Pace- ville would help policing, even without the facial recognition technology. "What we do now is request CCTV from other en- tities." Community safety group in the works Nonetheless, Camilleri says that the po- lice force is still trying to make Paceville a safer place for the community living there. But the issue is mostly joint enforce- ment. "Community safety is not something that be- longs only to the police. It's owned by so many entities – the MTA for ex- ample, health and safety for workers in the night industry, we need for ex- ample contingency plans for evacuations, such as with the CPD in cases of fire. These are all part of the enforcement solution." He pointed out that the police force is working on a community safety group to bring all entities around the same table and review every issue through the different viewpoints of each entity. Camilleri added that another problem to policing in Paceville is consistency. The police force is more focused on having police officers working on set tasks, as op- posed to just increasing the overall num- ber of police officers present. For example, there are around four police officers deployed each day that are ded- icated to tackling pickpocketing. "It's not happening in Paceville right now, but the pickpocketing has moved inside the clubs," he said, adding that the police has even re- sorted to deploying plain-clothed officers inside establishments to tackle pickpock- eting. Camilleri said that Paceville is a priority place with the police force, and there must always be a set number of officers present in the area. "The number of police officers in Paceville is never decreased to deal with festivals or feasts in other localities," he said. Ultimatey, Camilleri insisted that petty crime and antisocial behaviour are inevi- table in crowded places where people are intoxicated. "It's not something you can prevent 100%. All we can do is make the community feel safe. Most of the time, the area is safe." 'Paceville no more violent than other places in Malta'

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