During a news conference at the Police Depot, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia officially announced that the Malta Police Force and the Malta Customs benefited from a total of €1,463,345 in EU funds under the Hercule III Programme after MEUSAC stepped in to offer its assistance in the successful application process. Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia also addressed those present.
This was not a first. The Malta Customs had also set up a new canine unit with eight dogs thanks to EU funding and MEUSAC’s assistance. In fact, as recently as this month, Customs Officials found over €26,000 during coordinated searches in the departure lounge at Malta International Airport by the Anti Money Laundering team and the Canine Unit. One of the sniffer dogs, named Peter, indicated that a particular passenger might be carrying large amounts of cash, which, in the end, resulted in the affirmative.
The Malta Police Force will be using the funds for an Automatic Number Plate Recognition System (ANPRS) – to prevent and combat fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities in view of protecting the financial interests of both Malta and the European Union, particularly in cross-border operations. The project also includes the training of police officers to use both the software and hardware to be purchased.
The project value tied to the software is €1,097,150 while the amount allocated towards the hardware is that of €136,195.
Meanwhile, the Customs Department was awarded €230,000. The project involves the upgrading of the department’s mobile x-ray tunnel vans to strengthen both its operational and technical capacity to detect smuggled and counterfeited goods, by targeting control operations, with additional functionality for the scanning of personal luggage and commercial packages at varying locations, mainly, at the national airport, various seaports, the Parcel Post Office and merchants’ premises.
The funds will also be allocated to the training of customs officials. The project aims to increase its search capacity and detection and seizures by 40% and 15%, respectively.
MEUSAC has helped NGOs, local councils and entities garner over €49 million in EU funds over a 10-year period.