The dilemma for the British government in Malta, in confronting drunkenness, gambling and prostitution in Valletta that became apparent in the 1880s, was the acknowledgment that Malta had no crime problem before they arrived. In other colonies, administrators encountered what they believed to be an indigenous crime problem, and it was easy believe the British presence represented the solution in promoting civilization. This essay examines the nature and scope of the city’s “crime problem”, the alleged sources of the problem, and the solutions proposed to address it. Maltese officials conceded immorality had become a problem in Valletta, but disagreed about why it ought to be addressed and what sort of policing should be carried out in response. One solution on which both sides could agree was to blame foreigners, particularly immigrants from Sicily. Although British officials favored a policing organization intended to maintain order, they gave in to requests from the police and public for crime prevention, and formed a detective organisation.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 385-406
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.