Four officers suspended after Spanish ‘Protección Civil’ vehicle drives unchallenged into Gib
Two Borders & Coastguard officers and two Customs officers have been suspended after a Spanish state vehicle belonging to Protección Civil was allowed to cross the border from Spain into Gibraltar unchallenged on Sunday afternoon.
The four officers have been suspended pending the outcome of a detailed investigation into why the Spanish vehicle and its four uniformed officers were permitted to enter Gibraltar.
“This disciplinary matter is now an internal issue that will be dealt with through the Government’s set protocols,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.
The Spanish vehicle and its four uniformed occupants crossed into Gibraltar just after 4pm on Sunday and drove around the Rock, even trying to enter the Upper Rock nature reserve before being stopped by officers from the Royal Gibraltar Police on Governor's street.
When interviewed by police, the occupants, who were from a town in Málaga province, said they had come into Gibraltar to do some shopping. They were later escorted back to the border and into Spain.
Protección Civil officers are volunteers whose job is to assist in the response to civil contingencies, as well as provide first aid and safety cover for events involving large crowds. They are not law enforcement officers and are not armed.
However, as a state body dependent on Spain's Ministry of the Interior, the Spanish vehicle and its occupants should not have entered Gibraltar without prior clearance.
It was not immediately clear why the Protección Civil vehicle was allowed to cross without being challenged by the Borders & Coastguard Agency or HM Customs.
Writing on Facebook after a video of the vehicle being stopped on Governor's Street went viral on social media, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the incident was "more than just concerning".
"I am asking all relevant bodies to explain to me how on earth this has happened & to ensure it does not happen again," he wrote on Sunday night.
"This is frankly not acceptable. Our systems have failed today and they must not fail again."
"Someone must take responsibility for this failure.”
Yesterday, the GSD also expressed concern about what it described as an “inexplicable” incident.
“This can have been no accident,” said GSD Leader Keith Azopardi.
“The vehicle manned by uniformed Spanish officers deliberately drove into Gibraltar through the normal land frontier checks.”
“They then proceeded to drive around Gibraltar. The video evidence went viral on social media.”
“It is unacceptable that this should have happened and we need a full investigation to establish how this happened and to ensure lessons are learned so this does not happen again.”
“We call on Government to set a clear timetable for an investigation and publish the results of this.”