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Malta 2011 Crime and Safety Report

Europe > Malta

Malta 2011 OSAC Crime and Safety Report

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Persons traveling to Malta are at low risk of becoming victimized by crime.  However, a small number of opportunistic crimes, such as vehicle break-ins, theft, and burglary, do take place and are likely to coincide with the peak summer months of the tourist season. 

Driving in Malta presents challenges as some roads are poorly maintained.  Additionally, roads are extremely narrow and often not clearly delineated with street signs.  Pedestrians should take precautions, as sidewalks may be absent or narrow. Transportation by taxi is expensive, and travelers should negotiate fare prices before entering any vehicle.  Travel by bus is inexpensive; however, bus drivers can sometimes drive aggressively and be impatient with foreigners.  Major changes in the quality of bus transport are expected once the privatization of public transportation service is completed in July 2011.

Political Violence

The threat of political violence directed at Americans is low.  Acts of terrorism and civil unrest are uncommon in Malta, and non-confrontational demonstrations by specific groups opposed to U.S. foreign policy objectives are a very occasional occurrence.

Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004.  Along with a low crime rate, Malta offers a skilled business sector, financial services, telecommunications, flight connections, and a highly-trained work force, all of which are  competitive with other western European countries.  International businesses have used Malta’s location in the Mediterranean as a platform for operations in North Africa, particularly with Malta’s close neighbors Tunisia and Libya.

There is no recent history of terrorist attack in Malta directed at foreign nationals or businesses.  There is no indication that organized crime has an impact on doing business in Malta.

Post-Specific Concerns

Malta is prone to severe thunderstorms and flash flooding of low-lying roads which may become impassable due to 12-18 inches or more of standing water.  Flooding on this scale may impact key infrastructure such as emergency services, communications and utilities. Malta has experienced earthquakes; however, no earthquake has caused damage in the recent past. 

Illegal drugs, such as marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin, are accessible, particularly in those areas frequented by tourists.  The Government of Malta has made it a priority to arrest and prosecute offenders; persons caught trafficking narcotics can expect severe penalties and lengthy pre-trial confinement (up to or exceeding two years) if a contested trial is expected.  There have been no incidents of kidnapping, abduction, or carjacking of American citizens in Malta.

Police Response

Police in Malta are in general well trained and professional.  Victims of crime should file a police report immediately at the nearest police station.  Emergency contact numbers within Malta are as follows:

Police              112 or 195

Fire                  112 or 199

Ambulance      112 or 196

Medical Emergencies

Mater Dei Hospital

Mater Dei is a public general hospital and the most advanced in Malta.  Located in Birkirkara, the Emergency Room is open 24 hours and provides medical transportation via ambulance and helicopter.  Contact information is as follows:

Emergency                 +356 2545 4040

Administration             +356 2545 4160

Operator                      +356 2545 0000

St. James Hospital

St. James is a private hospital located on George Borg Oliver Street in the Sliema district and offers a complete set of medical services to include 24-hour emergency and ambulance services.  Emergency numbers are as follows:

St. James Emergency                        +356 2133 5235

St. James Hospital                  +356 2329 2000

Other Medical Services

Floriana Health Center (Clinic)           +356 2124 4340

Boffa Hospital (Dermatology)             +356 2122 2491

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Travelers should take the same precautions in Malta as they would in any other western European nation to include being aware of  surroundings and maintaining control at all times of personal effects.  The nightclub district of Paceville is frequently the scene of excessive alcohol consumption, and heavy-handed tactics are occasionally used by the bouncers of some establishments.  There have been isolated incidents in which foreign visitors have been injured.  The Embassy recommends that club visitors avoid confrontation with bouncers or local youths and depart the area at the first sign of potential problems

At present, there are no specific crimes that occur with greater frequency than others in Malta, and in general, there are no areas to be avoided or that require more security practices beyond those outlined above. However, in late 2010, three criminal incidents drew substantial media attention in Malta. 

On November 23, a prominent Maltese businessman, who was a party in a large number of private court cases, was the victim of a still unsolved fatal shooting in Valletta.

On December 3, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was used to severely injure three persons at Malta’s public transportation headquarters.  Transport Malta is the agency responsible for overseeing the transformation of Malta’s bus system to a privately-operated public utility in the coming year, that will eliminate the current system of independent operators.  Maltese authorities have stated that the IED was most likely aimed at individuals working on the privatization process, and those responsible were likely disgruntled employees impacted by the new privatized transport service.

On December 17, police were directed to an abandoned factory where they discovered an IED still in the production process.   No one has been arrested yet in this case.

Although unusual, these incidents demonstrate a significant level of planning on behalf of those with criminal intent who may have been seeking retribution for perceived personal wrongs or opposed a specific general policy.

Further Information

American Citizens are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in the event they experience difficulties while in Malta.

Embassy Operator                 +356 2561 4000

Marine Guard Post One          +356 2561 4150

Duty Officer                             +356 9920 3322

OSAC Country Council

Malta is in the process of creating an OSAC country council.