Terms of appointment for a new police commissioner will allow the prime minister to sack the chief of police during his or her first year in office, the Nationalist Party has warned. 

The PN also noted that the holder’s term will be limited to four years instead of the recommended five. 

Applications for the post were opened on Friday following a public call published in the government gazette. 

The post is for a four-year period, with the successful candidate also subject to a 12-month probationary period. The eventual police commissioner will be paid €42,827 a year as well as 20 per cent responsibility allowance above that, allowances for a car, phone and expenses, a  project-based allowance of up to 20 per cent of the basic salary and an annual performance bonus of up to 15 per cent of the basic salary.

It is the first time that the police commissioner post is open to external applicants from outside the force, with the government having unveiled a revamped selection system following criticism from the Council of Europe’s rule of law oversight body, the Venice Commission. 

The Public Service Commission will vet candidates and MPs will grill the chosen person before assuming he or she can assume the post. Previously, the choice of police commissioner was at the sole discretion of the prime minister.

But Opposition MPs have said that the terms of the post do not respect the Venice Commission’s five-year term recommendation and noted that the 12-month probationary period will make it easier for the prime minister to keep control of the post. 

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“This is confirmation that Robert Abela wants to continue selecting the police commissioner and control him in the most absolute way,” said PN MPs Beppe Fenech Adami and Karol Aquilina. 

Fenech Adami is PN spokesman for home affairs, while Aquilina speaks for the party on good governance issues. 

“The PN believes that it is essential for a democratic society to have a police corps led by a professional, impartial person who upholds and protects the rule of law,” they said, reiterating their party’s stance that the eventual commissioner should be chosen by a two-thirds majority of parliament. 

“As prime minister, Robert Abela has failed one good governance test after another and is showing that his only aim is to follow where Joseph Muscat left off and continue to hold oto absolute power,” they added.

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