Safety concerns over stray lead pellets from the new shooting range recently forced the ‘evacuation’ of the police academy at Ta’ Kandja.
Sources told the Times of Malta the incident happened last month on a very windy day during the recently held shooting World Cup.
“Though the facility is equipped with a 20 metre high retractable mesh which is meant to stop stray pellets, the mechanism could not be used due to the strong winds. Consequently, large quantities of lead shots fell close to the main block of the adjacent police academy,” they said.
The area was consequently declared unsafe and all scheduled events were cancelled, the sources added.
The Home Affairs Ministry confirmed the safety net was automatically retracted due to the strong wind on June 13. A spokeswoman said “no shooting sport was effected until it was ascertained no danger resulted for anyone using the complex”. The shooting World Cup could then resume, the ministry said.
The spokeswoman insisted that the Academy for Disciplined Forces was functioning normally and no training had been disrupted during the entire period of the competition between June 5 and 15.
However, the Times of Malta received various reports that staff at the police academy were asked to go home on at least one occasion, though there were probably other similar instances too.
Participants due to attend a seminar at the academy were also informed at the last minute that the event would be held elsewhere.
Police sources expressed concern that the recent incident did not bode well for the future of the academy, in the midst of fears that the corps might be forced to seek alternative premises.
“This is further testament that sportsmen seem to have been prioritised over disciplined forces despite the fact that the shooting range is within the academy,” they said.
The police academy would very likely have to seek alternative premises and the training for military parades was already being done elsewhere, including Maria Assunta School in Ħamrun and the St Joseph Institute football pitch, the Times of Malta has learnt.
It reported last February that the decision to incorporate the new shooting range within the academy for disciplined forces had been viewed with a degree of suspicion within police circles.
The choice of the location was justified by the government on the grounds that it would also serve as a training facility for disciplined forces. However, the police sources noted that the facilities available there at present had very little use, if any, to the force.
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