Updated at 2.30pm with the prime minister's comments below.

Dozens of traffic police are expected to be investigated in connection with overtime abuse in what is being considered as a “major racket”.

Sources told Times of Malta a whistleblower had spoken up about the abuse which has been ongoing for several months.

A lengthy investigation had shown that several members of the corps had in fact been claiming overtime for jobs they never reported for or carried out.

Arrangements to make sure enough police on streets

Some police officers are expected to be questioned on Tuesday and will be suspended from work. Others could possibly be charged in court.

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The development is believed to spark a logistical nightmare for the authorities since a number of police officers would need to be immediately replaced by other enforcement officials trained in the traffic section.

“Arrangements have been made to make sure there are enough police monitoring our streets,” the sources said.

It is another blow for the force which has faced mounting criticism over the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation.

Contingency plan prepared

In a statement on Tuesday morning, the police said that arrests were ongoing following weeks of investigations.

It said all measures according to law will be taken and a contingency plan had already been prepared to ensure that traffic laws will continue to be enforced.

The police also called for anyone who had any information in relation to these cases to pass it on, even in a confidential manner, on tel: 2294 2201, e-mail:
internalaffairs.police@gov.mt .

'Too early to give numbers' - minister

Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

Later on Tuesday morning, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri refused to say how many police officers were involved, saying it was too early to give any numbers.

"The police investigations are still ongoing and a statement was also issued by the force. It will be the police who will confirm this once the investigations have been completed," Dr Camilleri said.

Fielding questions from journalists following an event in Fgura, the minister confirmed the officers involved came from the traffic section but gave little additional information.

The issue, he insisted, was still being investigated and action would be taken depending on the outcome of the ongoing probe.

Asked by Times of Malta whether officers from other sections could be involved in the racket, Dr Camilleri did not say.  He added that he always insists that any alleged wrongdoing, whoever it might involve, has to be investigated. 

"I don't know whether there are others. I will only continue to insist on one thing - that if there are allegations, the police have a duty to investigate them," the minister said. 

This, he said, would also be the case with this matter.

On who would be shouldering responsibility, the minister also would not say. Instead, he reiterated that police investigations are ongoing and that a contingency plan is already in place.

Good that the police force is investigating its own people - PM

Commenting later, Prime Minister Robert Abela said it was good that the police force was investigating its own people.

“This confirms that we have a functioning police force. If these investigations lead to people being taken to court or to disciplinary action being taken, then that is what will happen,” Dr Abela said.

Asked by Times of Malta whether he had information on the number of those involved, the prime minister said he did not interfere with the force’s work and so he was not privy to the figure.

The matter was also raised in Parliament by Opposition leader Adrian Delia who asked the Home Affairs Minister if he was going to make a statement to brief the House on the latest developments.  

Dr Camilleri, said he had no such intention. He said he had nothing to add to the police statement except that various officers were being questioned in the wake of a whistleblower’s claims.

Investigations are underway, and he looked forward to their conclusion. Decisions would follow accordingly, possibly even by the courts, he said.

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