The acting police commissioner has issued an internal call for applications for motorcyclists to join its now-depleted traffic section.

The call issued by Carmelo Magri is part of a contingency plan to shore up the section after nearly three-quarters of its members were arrested and suspended from duty during an investigation into a  massive racket of overtime abuse within the force.

Preference will be given to those who already have a licence to drive a motorcycle but those in the process of obtaining one will also be considered.

The police have so far arrested 40 police officers in the widespread probe. The police on Thursday said 25 of them had been suspended and granted police bail while investigations continue.

The police also said it had received four resignations from among those who were arrested. It has been confirmed that two of those who resigned are Superintendent Walter Spiteri and a woman police sergeant who worked as a duty  officer in the traffic section.

The investigation began late last year within the traffic branch but sources close to the probe have confirmed it has now been widened and is also covering other sections and units within the police force where similar irregularities are suspected to have taken place.

It is believed that policemen within the traffic section, mainly motorcycle officers, submitted overtime sheets for “hundreds of hours” that they did not work over at least three years.

Investigators are also looking into claims that the officers were using police fuel to fill up their own private vehicles.

The suspected fraudulent practices were first brought to the attention of the police in December by an anonymous letter sent to the then police commissioner. The whistleblower alleged the abuse had been happening for years.

The CID, anti-fraud and internal affairs units are jointly investigating what has been described as a “web of fraud, misappropriation and corruption”  by officers.

Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Thursday the fact that the police were investigating people from within showed how seriously the matter was being taken.

“We have a situation where the force is investigating its own members which shows there is integrity in the way it operates. But there is still more that needs to be done,” Dr Abela said.

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