The Sliema local council has called on the authorities to introduce community policing to the locality immediately for the safety of all residents.

“By 2023, all localities should be included in this policing scheme but we are requesting and urging the authorities to introduce community policing to the locality at once,” newly-elected Sliema mayor, Graziella Attard Previ told Times of Malta on Monday.

The mayor's call came after a 29-year-old woman, Paulina Dembska, was killed in the town's Independence Gardens on Sunday morning. A Żejtun man, Abner Zammit, is being held in connection with that crime. 

“We want the scheme to be implemented, not just in light of this tragic crime but because we wish for other crimes to be avoided and we have noted how the scheme has worked in other localities," mayor Attard Previ said. 

Community policing covers 28 localities so far, with a promise to extend it nationwide. The mayor said that all councillors were shocked by news of the murder, especially since it took place at a well-frequented space.

“The promenade is popular at any time, as many joggers and walkers go through the area from the early morning.

“No one expected that in such an open space something so horrible would happen,” she said.

She said that the council is collaborating with the police and will provide CCTV footage from cameras placed in the garden.

“Sliema is one of the largest localities on the island and is extremely diversified,” Attard Previ said.

“The town is both residential and commercial, a home for foreigners and locals, young and old.

“We face a lot of challenges and we want to ensure all residents feel safe.”

Attard Previ, who is also the president of Moviment Nisa Partit Nazzjonalista, said the murder highlights how much more has to be done for women’s equality.

“It’s only the beginning of the new year and women feel unsafe in public spaces. This is not on,” she said.

“Many times it is the woman who is the victim. Too many times we hear of women who have been harassed or become victims by men. We hope that the legal system will reflect on this and that such crimes are corrected with the right measures.”

Many other women have taken to social media calling out for the end of femicide and crimes against women.

The Women’s Rights Foundation will hold a vigil on site of the murder on Tuesday at 6pm.

Those attending are asked to take a candle with them.

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