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Police may lose out to sportsmen at Ta’ Kandja shooting range

Facility must be completed by June

An artist’s impression of the new shooting range at Ta’ Kandja

An artist’s impression of the new shooting range at Ta’ Kandja

Policemen fear the new Ta’ Kandja shooting range will be of little benefit to them, amid concerns the facility will be mostly used as a sport venue despite forming part of the police academy.

Announced by the government in May last year at the height of the general election campaign, the €7 million facility must be completed by next June, when Malta hosts the ISSF World Cup. At the time, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had justified the choice of site, saying it would have the dual purpose of serving both the police and sportsmen.

A sport facility in the midst of a police academy might present serious problems as it does not make sense having the public roam about within a complex used for military and police training, not to mention security issues

While shooting enthusiasts who had long been lobbying for a state-of-the-art facility welcomed the news, there was lukewarm reception for the project within police circles.

Police sources who spoke with the Times of Malta on condition of anonymity, questioned the ultimate object of such project that will cover an area of more than 60,000 square metres.

“It seems the police academy at Ta’ Kandja has been sacrificed to accommodate the political pledge made last year of having a fully-fledged shooting range,” they lamented.

“A sport facility in the midst of a police academy might present serious problems as it does not make sense having the public roam about within a complex used for military and police training, not to mention security issues,” they added.

Officers are also concerned that, at some point, the academy might have to be relocated.

“The project appears to have the marks of a land speculation exercise rather than an effort to give much-needed resources to the police force,” an officer said.

Replying to questions, the Home Affairs Ministry described the project as being owned by the government and administered in collaboration with the Malta Police Force, the Academy for Disciplined Forces Malta and Sport Malta.

However, questions on who would be administering the facility and whether use of it would be at the discretion of the police force – which is, ultimately, the proprietor of the land on which the complex is being built – were vaguely answered.

Instead, the ministry said that the police and the Academy for Disciplined Forces Malta would be making use of the facilities for training purposes, without elaborating.

Despite its magnitude, the project does not necessitate a full planning permit but only a development notification order, which is normally reserved for minor developments.

The ‘exception’ was possible in the wake of a legal notice issued last August 1, through which all developments carried out on land belonging to the police force only required a DNO.

The project has also fuelled controversy because of the procurement process adopted after it transpired that over €6 million of contracts had been adjudicated without a public call being made. Sports Parliamentary Secretary Clifton Grima justified the decision on grounds tight timeframes, saying the facility had to be up and running by June.

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