Local Enforcement is a concept that enables the Central Government to delegate the power of enforcement of selected depenalised offences to the Regional Committees (since 1st September, 2011). Local Enforcement is designed to ensure that the law-abiding citizen is protected from abuse and non-compliance with laws and regulations (including bye laws) and in the process instill a sense of community discipline. Primarily this attempts to educate and make the public aware of the harm and inconveniences that infringements cause to others. Secondly, where education fails, this concept provides an enforcement machinery which penalizes these offenders.
The main objective behind the introduction of Local Enforcement is to grant to local and regional government authorities the opportunity to exercise direct control in the enforcement of legislation which have a bearing on the general outlook of the localities and also the behaviour and well-being of their citizens. The transfer of delegated enforcement from the Local Councils (mainly operating as Joint Committees constituted of several Local Councils) to the Regional Committees, created scope for the establishment of inter-communal law enforcement policies across the region). This objective is furthermore being realized through a mechanism which ensures that full compliance with the law is achieved initially through a process of education of the public.
Local Enforcement has effectively ensured that the local wardens together with the other enforcement agencies do not limit enforcement solely to on-street parking but also to the enforcement of statutory expectations relating to:
The idea to improve the quality of Local Enforcement is the principle that guided the Central Government to embark on this process of devolution. Formerly all enforcement was the responsibility of the Malta Police Force. They were responsible for the overall national enforcement from major crimes like drug dealings to trivial offences such as parking offences. The Central Government felt the need for a structure that would give specific attention to the curbing of the minor offences. It was at this point that the Government decided to embark on a Local Enforcement scheme.
When the system of local government was introduced in June, 1993, Local Councils were given limited functional responsibilities which over the years where expanded to cover all locality requirements. However, they did not have any executive powers where enforcement was concerned. It was eventually realized that the local government system could function successfully without direct involvement in enforcement procedures. The Local Enforcement scheme was the logical next step in the evolution of the concept of local government. The idea was to set up local authorities empowered to regulate and manage a substantial share of public affairs under their own responsibility and in the interests of the local population.
The Central Government embarked on a project which set up an innovative structure where the enforcement of de-penalised offences referred to in the First Schedule of the Commissioners of Justice Act were delegated to Local Councils. The seat of the Local Tribunal established under this Act was not left at the Courts of Law in Valletta but taken to other places, thus introducing the idea of bringing the administration of Justice to the public. In fact this system has enhanced the right of the citizen to participate in the conduct of public affairs and ensures that the local authority has the resources required to fulfill those requirements.