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GPF says external police audit echoes own earlier surveys

The Gibraltar Police Federation (GPF) has welcomed the findings of a recent independent audit of the Royal Gibraltar Police, adding that the report reflects some of the conclusions raised in two earlier surveys conducted by the federation itself.

The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services [HMICFRS], the independent UK body that assesses police and fire and rescue services to promote improvements in the way they operate, identified serious weaknesses in systems and processes that lie at the core of the RGP’s structure and the way it engages with both its own officers and the public.

It made far-reaching recommendations aimed at improving the way the RGP assesses and understands “demand, risk and vulnerability.”

HMICFRS also set out guidance on how the force can better promote “ethics, fairness and transparency.”

Speaking to the Chronicle, the GPF said many of the issues identified by the HMICFRS inspectors had already been raised by the GPF in its own dealings with the RGP management following two separate surveys of its members.

Maurice Morello, the GPF chairman, said the federation had previously highlighted concerns over forward planning, procedures, policies and the need to modernise IT systems, all of which were also underlined by the HMICFRS team.

He expressed disappointment that the RGP had only implemented two out of eight recommendations contained in an earlier HMICFRS report following a 2016 audit.

But he acknowledged comments by Commissioner of Police Ian McGrail following publication of this latest report and said he was glad the RGP was viewing this as an opportunity to improve its internal systems.

Mr McGrail had previously told the Chronicle that the latest HMICFRS findings drew on the RGP’s own internal self-assessments and provided “an opportunity to learn and develop” alongside other partners in order to improve the RGP’s service to the community.

“The RGP is the most hardworking, transparent public body in Gibraltar,” Mr Morello said.

“But it’s also the most criticised.”

He said the federation stood ready to assist the RGP’s senior management team to implement the HMICFRS findings, adding: “We want to work with them.”

In their latest report, the HMICFRS inspectors said they found no evidence of systemic bullying, though this was not part of their remit.

But the inspectors reflected claims by less senior staff of “firm leadership” to describe management behaviours that may “in a small number of cases” have amounted to bullying.

The GPF had previously highlighted concerns about bullying in the force but said much work had since been done with the RGP’s senior command team to address this issue.

For the GPF though, there is more to be done.

“We have to prevent bullying, not just detect it,” Mr Morello said.

“And we cannot mask bullying with phrases like ‘firm management styles.’ Bullying is bullying.”

Mr Morello, in common with Mr McGrail, also agreed with the HMICFRS’ observation that the RGP was routinely required to work beyond its remit - for example, policing border queues - and that more cooperation with partner agencies was necessary in order to free up resources for core policing tasks.

“There’s no doubt that other agencies need to step up,” he said.

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