Hand-Held Speed Cameras (HSCs)

What are HSCs?
HSCs are gun-shaped technology devices that assist the operator to accurately determine the speed by which an object is moving. The Police make use of such devices in order to ensure that any proceedings instituted against an offender are based on reliable and accurate evidence.
When and why are such devices used?
The Police use such devices in cases where reasonable suspicion exists that a vehicle is driving with a speed beyond the set limit. This allows the Police to capture and preserve evidence that an offence has been committed.

How are they operated?
When, having regard to the circumstances, it appears to a Police Officer that a motor vehicle is moving with a speed beyond that established by law, the officer operating a HCSs pulls the trigger of the HSC to activate the device. A signal is emitted in the form of a straight laser beam. The officer points the device towards the fast-moving motor vehicle. If the signal hits a motor vehicle that is moving with a speed in excess to the set limit, the capturing function of the device is activated, and it starts capturing a series of frames and the relative speed. It is only if the vehicle is exceeding the set speed limit that it activates. Hence, no information is captured if the vehicle is not exceeding the set limit.

What happens next?
Once the reasonable suspicion of the Police has been verified, and therefore the Police has confirmation that an offence has been committed, the Police initiate proceedings against the offender. The owner of the vehicle is notified of the contravention according to law, and captured pertinent information is uploaded on the Law Enforcement System which is accessible by the offender over the web (les.gov.mt). In cases where the incident involves a more serious offence, proceedings are taken according to law in the circumstances.

Is the use of HSCs regulated by law?
The use of HSCs is based on Regulation 127 of the Motor Vehicles Regulations (S.L.65.11 of the Laws of Malta) which establishes the framework for the different types of speed monitoring devices that may be employed. The HSCs used by the Police have been prescribed by the Minister responsible for Transport as indicated in the Government Gazettes No. 20,443 and No. 20,440 of 14 and 17 July 2020 respectively. They are calibrated biannually in accordance with the provisions of the Measurements Subject to Metrological Control Regulations (S.L.454.17 of the Laws of Malta).

Legal Basis
The processing of personal data captured via HSCs is based on various legal provisions:
  • It is the duty of the Police to preserve public order and peace, to prevent and to detect and investigate offences, to collect evidence, whether against or in favour of the person suspected of having committed the offence, and to bring the offenders, whether principals or accomplices, before the judicial authorities in terms of Article 346(1) of the Criminal Code (Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta).
  • Article 62(1) of the Police Act specifically empowers the Police to hold, process and classify any information relevant to the commission of any crime in or outside Malta which information may be preserved by any system whatsoever, including electronic format.
  • Regulation 127 of the Motor Vehicles Regulations (S.L.65.11 of the Laws of Malta) sets the speed limit for motor vehicles and provides for the use of HSCs.
  • Moreover, the Malta Police Force, may collect personal data by technical surveillance or other automated means for the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offices in terms of Regulation 8(3) of S.L.586.08.

Personal data captured by HSCs
The categories of personal data captured by HSCs is limited to images of the motor vehicle, which includes its registration plate, speed, location and time.
Disclosure of Data captured by HSCs
Data captured by HSCs will be used as for the issuing of traffic contraventions that are tried in the Local Tribunals. To that purpose, pertinent information is uploaded on the Law Enforcement System that is accessible by the offender over the web. In those cases that involve other more serious offences, the data is used as evidence before the Court before which proceedings are taken.

There may be instances where such data will be made available to foreign Law Enforcement Authorities, particularly Law Enforcement Authorities in other Member States, in pursue of a legal obligation or a bilateral agreement within the context of Police Cooperation.

Retention Period
Data collected from HSCs are generally kept for 2 years from the determination of the case. This is subject to longer periods, as established in the Data Retention Schedule, should the case involve more serious offences. Data will be disposed of accordingly once the relevant retention period expires.
What are your rights in relation to your personal data captured by HSCs?
The processing of personal data collected via HSCs is regulated by the Data Protection (Processing of Personal Data by Competent Authorities for the Purposes of the Prevention, Investigation, Detection or Prosecution of Criminal Offences or the Execution of Criminal Penalties) Regulations (S.L.586.08).

Any person has the right to:
  • request access to personal data relating to him/her processed
  • request the correction of factually inaccurate personal data relating to him/her or the
  • deletion of his/her personal data in the case of unlawfully processed information
  • request restriction of processing of their personal data according to law
  • the right to lodge a complaint with the Information and Data Protection Commissioner

For more information about your rights and how to exercise them click here .