It is not true that many police officers are leaving the force before completing 25 years of service, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said on Thursday.
He was replying to questions by Times of Malta, following claims by the Nationalist party that police officers are “overstretched, overworked and underpaid”.
In June, the Malta Police Union claimed that some 300 officers had left the police corps in the previous 18 months.
However, Camilleri pushed backed against claims of an exodus among police officers, saying a distinction should be made between those who leave the force after they reach retirement age and those who choose to leave before their 25 years are up.
“I think we need to make a distinction between those who leave because they are retiring and those who leave before they reach retirement,” he said.
“There is a huge difference and we have had a number of people in the corps who have retired. It’s incorrect to say that there is a large number of police officers who left the corps before retirement age. Now if a police officer chooses to leave once they have served their 25 years, it is their right to do so and receive their pension.”
According to data provided by the minister in a parliamentary question published last month, some 117 police officers left the corps before reaching retirement between 2017 and May 2022. This included officers who died, stopped working for medical reasons, were transferred to other departments or were fired.
Data provided to Times of Malta by the Malta Police Force show that between 2017 and 2021, 380 new recruits joined the corps. Between 2017 and 2020 there seems to have been a pattern of decline, going from 97 recruits to 77 in 2018 and 56 in 2019. In the peak pandemic year, recruitment was at a four-year-low, with only 44 new recruits joining the force in 2020. However, things picked up the following year, with the figure more than doubling to 106 new recruits in 2021.
Some 58 new recruits are also currently attending basic training at the Academy for Disciplined Forces.
Camilleri said the ministry is in the process of initiating talks with the Finance Ministry to introduce an electoral pledge to increase pensions for officers who stay an additional three years over their 25 years of service, across the disciplined forces.
The minister added that, as an employer, the disciplined forces were competing with diverse career options for young people.
“We are competing in a Malta which is very different to what it was 20 years ago,” Camilleri said.
“Today, when young people leave schoolg and start looking for a career, they have diverse options in prestigious industries to choose from. So I’m happy to still see them choose to join a disciplined force. We will continue to encourage them to do so and will continue to work to make it a more attractive career choice,” he promised.