I followed the answers to two parliamentary questions tabled by Beppe Fenech Adami to the minister for home affairs. The questions were about the number of reported thefts during 2020 and the number of reported domestic violence cases for the same period in the different localities in Malta and Gozo.

The answers which were given, though somehow expected, actually shocked me.

I will concentrate on the numbers that concern St Paul’s Bay. I do this for three particular reasons.

First, this is the locality with the largest number of reported thefts (423 out of 4,037) and the largest number of reported domestic violence cases (93 out of 1,409).

Second, a sense of safety and security for many of those living or working here is non-existent.

Third, this is the locality where I was born and lived ever since my birth and which I have been working to improve over the past years.

I have tried my best to make sure that police presence in the locality is increased to take into account the population growth. On the whole, however, this has not happened, despite the best intentions of the police.

I have tried to ensure that the number of police officers on the beat be increased and to ensure that both police stations, the one in the centre of St Paul’s Bay and the one in Qawra, are open 24 hours, seven days a week. Again, my demands have not been given the necessary attention.

However, I will not give up and will continue to exert the necessary pressure for St Paul’s Bay to get what it deserves.

The social fabric of St Paul’s Bay has been radically changed

During the last budget speech, St Paul’s Bay was finally mentioned as one of the localities in which community police will be introduced. This was a breath of fresh air.

Finally, St Paul’s Bay would also have its own community police. I have insisted, all along, that the situation in the locality was going from bad to worse. The social fabric of the locality has been radically changed.

However, what stands out very strongly is the fact that the government is not really giving the necessary attention to the area and its residents. When tourism police were introduced in other localities, our area was forgotten.

When the community police service was actually extended to other localities, we were once more forgotten. We continue to hope that this service will really be introduced in the coming months.

We are all aware of the fact that St Paul’s Bay is often in the news for the wrong reasons. This fact frustrates our residents who, in their vast majority, are simply after a quiet life inside their homes.

Everyone is entitled to one’s personal life. However, this right cannot overshadow the right of the community to live in an area where dangers are reduced to a minimum.

Over the past months, besides the number of known and reported cases, I was informed about other difficult situations. Harassment has increased. People in the area are not feeling safe.

In certain parts of the locality, people do not feel safe enough to go out on their own at certain times of the day, let alone during the night.

Words of praise are due to the police force.

It is surely not easy to work in such an environment. My appeal is, once again, to the government to increase the number of police officers in the locality.

This can only happen if the government is willing to provide the necessary resources.

With this in mind, I once more insist that we should not allow our town to be considered like some second-class locality. Those in power should understand this and should help residents by providing the necessary security and peace of mind.

It is only then that people will start to return to what can be called a normal life.

Graziella Galea, Nationalist Party candidate

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