No amount of police in Paceville will prevent the odd fight from breaking out, says a man with long years of experience of Malta’s major entertainment hub.

“In an industry which is so vibrant and full of people, even if you have the whole police depot in Paceville, there will still be that one person who will start an argument or a fight,” said Philip Fenech, who once owned the popular BJ’s jazz bar and is now chairman of the Town Centre Management of Paceville.

When there are so many different people all in one space, some argument is bound to break out- Philip Fenech

“These things happen in a split second, no matter how prepared you are, or how many police officers there are on site, and they are more likely to happen in places which are very busy and crowded.”

Some say the area was better in the 1980s or 1990s. But Paceville has always been an entertainment hub, attracting different crowds, he said.

“When there are so many different people all in one space, some argument is bound to break out.”

Paceville needs its own team

But this does not mean he is not in favour of setting up a dedicated squad of police for the area, as promised by the Labour Party in its electoral manifesto.

In fact, while praising the work done by the police force, he called yesterday for Paceville to have its own team to tackle the particular challenges and criminality in the area.

“A specific force would strengthen the current security measures in place and the hard work the police continue to do in this area,” he said.

He also called for more security cameras in the nightspot.

“Our main priority remains that no one starts a fight, and no one gets hurt, especially as the area is seeing a new energy following the pandemic, with bigger crowds and more movement of people.”

The island’s party mecca seems to have made more headlines than usual over the past few weeks, with numerous police reports of violence taking place in the locality.

There is already a strong police presence in the area, which unfortunately can sometimes be inconsistent

Last week, a 26-year-old man was reported to be fighting for his life after a fight in St Julian’s, while another three men were involved in another fight in which two French men were reported to have been injured.

At the beginning of the month, a man entered a restaurant in Paceville, grabbed a knife and bottle, and started attacking people. The police had to taser him after he disobeyed their orders and was aggressive towards them.

Only the day before, four men were injured in a fight involving a sword and glass objects.

Fenech praised the police officers who spend long evenings patrolling both Paceville and St Julian’s.

“There is already a strong police presence in the area, which unfortunately can sometimes be inconsistent. There are feasts, parties, festivals, and police cannot be everywhere.

“We have constant meetings with them, the local council and the tourism ministry on how to improve the area,” he said.

Discussions underway

Last month, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri told parliament that discussions over a special squad focused on security in Paceville were under way. He did not provide any date about when that squad might be up and running.

The minister said there had been improvements on a number of fronts over the last few months, with the community policing project extended to St Julian’s and Swieqi, and special measures adopted to boost security in Paceville.

Replying to questions, a police spokesperson yesterday confirmed the discussions were under way.

“Now that this is in fact one of the new government’s electoral manifesto proposals, we will ensure that we proceed with discussions in place with a view to creating the right set-up for this purpose,” the spokesperson said.

“The police force is committed to ensuring a safe country for all, in Paceville and elsewhere.”

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