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Oldest court warrant dates back over 30 years, Parliament told

The oldest identified outstanding warrant of arrest in Gibraltar dates to 1990, Parliament heard on Monday. 

As reported in this newspaper earlier this month, the Royal Gibraltar Police confirmed there are over 15,000 outstanding warrants of arrest in Gibraltar. 

Warrants are only issued by the courts if a fine is not paid to the court, or if an individual does not turn up to court. 

In cases involving serious offences, the RGP will act to execute the warrants immediately. 

In response to questions from GSD MP Joelle Ladislaus, Minister for Justice Nigel Feetham said a random sample of warrants revealed a warrant of arrest dating back over 30 years to 1990. 

“Warrants are not kept chronologically, I am advised that in order to ascertain the date of the oldest warrants, a manual search through all warrants would need to be undertaken and this would be an onerous task,” Mr Feetham said. 

“However, a random sample has been looked at and the oldest warrant identified through that sample dated to 1990.” 

“I am also informed that this random sample confirms that many of the warrants relate to unpaid fines and non-residents of Gibraltar.” 

Ms Ladislaus quizzed the Minister for Justice on the number of outstanding warrants of arrest between the years 2011 and 2023. 

“I am informed that providing the information requested would be impossible,” Mr Feetham said. 

“This is because the information is not kept in year chronology but in alphabetical order by name in a database.” 

“There is also an issue that original executed warrants are returned to the courts and as such, it would be impossible to come to an accurate number of warrants at the end of each year as these are no longer in the possession of the Royal Gibraltar Police.” 

He was then asked as to the cause of the backlog of such warrants and how they would be addressed. 

“The backlog of unexecuted warrants is a historical issue that dates back over the past few decades and I am informed by the RGP that it is not related to staffing issues or resources,” he said. 

“I am advised that there is no timeframe in place to deal with the outstanding warrants, as warrants date back over the recent decades.” 

Mr Feetham told Parliament he had discussed potential ways to address the outstanding warrants with the Ministry of Justice. 

“I have had discussions within my Ministry in order to ascertain whether there are any ways to deal with this issue, for example through legislation,” he said. 

“This may not be possible due to the need to ensure fairness and the separation of powers between Parliament, Executive and Judiciary, in essence, non-interference with court procedures and orders of the court.” 

Earlier this month, the RGP urged anyone with queries as to whether they have an outstanding warrant to attend New Mole House with a form of ID. 

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