Updated 10.30am, adds details

An internal police investigation into overtime abuse by the traffic squad has widened to include a number of other units in the force. 

Sources said that what had first started as an investigation into the police traffic unit had now spread to district officers and other departments where similar irregularities were suspected to have taken place.

Times of Malta was unable to confirm tip-offs from within the corps that as many as 300 officers were being investigated internally.  

However, well-informed sources did confirm that the probe had spread beyond the traffic section by Wednesday afternoon. 

In the case of the traffic unit, it is alleged that officers, mainly motorcycle officers, collectively applied for “hundreds of hours” of overtime that they did not carry out over at least three years.

Investigators are also looking into claims that some motorcycle traffic policemen had been misappropriating fuel and using it for their own private vehicles.

The wide-ranging internal fraud investigation was first brought to the attention of the police in December by an anonymous letter sent to then-police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, detailing how officers were cashing in on duties they never performed.

Police Superintendent Walter Spiteri, responsible for the traffic unit, resigned this week as he too was being investigated together with more than half the members of the squad.

So far, the police said on Thursday, four officers from the section had resigned and their resignations were accepted.

Mr Spiteri had allegedly been found to have logged overtime motorcycle duties despite the fact that this was not being part of his duties. 

Sources said Wednesday the unit’s duty officer, a police sergeant who handled the administration of the unit and would have dealt directly with overtime requests, had also resigned.

The police confirmed that, so far, 40 officers had been arrested in connection with the alleged scam, 25 of whom had been granted police bail.

In many of the cases reviewed, the sources said, the abuse constituted dereliction of duty, which was a criminal offence.

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said the police force was going through a difficult time, having been undermined by a “culture of corruption and impunity”.

It said the police force needed to turn a new page in order to regain the people’s respect.

The party saluted honest police officers who, it said, felt betrayed by the actions of the few among them.

It also urged the Prime Minister to take up its call for the appointment of the new police commissioner to be made by consensus. 

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