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Feltom backs zero tolerance plan in Paceville

With many young international students congregating in Malta each summer with the intention to enjoy themselves – and learn some English at the same time – it is not the first time that unruly language students causing disarray have hit the headlines in Malta. But a series of violent incidences and scenes of disorder have led the language school’s association, FELTOM, to back plans for a “zero tolerance” policy in the Paceville region to avoid it becoming a crime hotspot, or “lawless mecca”.

The association said that it backed a new pressure group, GASP (Group for a Safer Paceville), which was set up by a father whose son was attacked by six others in the nightclub region. GASP is calling for more police in the area while a group representing small and medium-sized businesses in the area (GRTU) is calling for better use of CCTV cameras that were installed by the Malta Tourism Authority. There are several newspaper reports of misdemeanours such as a French student shattering the glass door to a nightclub or a Spanish student assaulting a police officer and damaging a mobile phone, when being told to stop swearing. (In this case, the magistrate told him, “You would not expect me to do in Spain what you did here and vice-versa.”)

Feltom said in a statement that Malta’s reputation as a safe family destination was a key selling point for tourism and for the English language sector. “Yet, the number of violent incidents in and around Paceville are hitting the headlines with greater frequency… We fully agree that this situation cannot continue unabated and welcome the setting up of GASP and its efforts to draw attention to the problem.”. GASP and GRTU has already met bar owners to discuss shared concerns. The groups plan to meet all concerned stakeholders, including the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, Swieqi council and language schools, to listen to their concerns over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, one exasperated police officer told the Times of Malta, “These people just do not know how to have fun without causing problems.”

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