Police stations were found closed because members of the force were patrolling the streets, Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia said.

Dr Farrugia was under fire from Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami after a media report showed 12 out of 16 police stations in Gozo were closed.

"We believe our police stations should be open and fully equipped," Dr Fenech Adami said. "Gozo has a big problem with drug trafficking and criminals continue to operate because police are missing from localities," he added.

The closed police stations worried individuals because they felt a refuge for their safety was lost, Dr Fenech Adami said.

Addressing a debate on the budgetary estimates for the Home Affairs Ministry, the Nationalist MP noted the budget had no plan and no direction for sectors of national security.

The government had given up on putting police on the streets, the Nationalist MP said, replacing them with cameras all over the place.

"The government forgets the security of our country, our fight against criminality and the everyday people that continue to fight organised crime," he said.

In fact, he said, when a journalist spoke out against organised crime and investigated corruption, she was killed.

Dr Fenech Adami said statistics showed criminality was rife, noting there had been 600 robberies in St Julian’s until the end of August this year alone.

"There are 18 cases of thefts a day - a robbery every hour and a half,” he said.

"And then the minister has the gall to say that we are always negative. Our reply is that we are on the right side, the side that wants to fight criminality. The budget does not even recognise our big problem with criminality,” he said.

But the Home Affairs Minister rebutted his comments, saying the opposition’s comments had been recycled. He pointed out investment in the sector had grown by three times more than the capital investment five years ago.

"The Opposition keeps repeating that everyone is terrified to leave their homes,” he said. Statistics however, showed crime has been on a steady decline over the years.

The government was also committed to continue fighting crime - whether organised or not - by investing in the area. A forensic lab was being built and plans to have mini police headquarters around the country were underway.

"We are working on a plan to ensure people are working and living in a secure country and we are fighting organised crime," he said. He also noted there was greater investment in the Armed Forces to better cover Malta’s search and rescue zone.