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Police complaints down but some concerns persist

The number of complaints investigated by the Police Complaints Board in 2016 dropped by four to just 12 compared to the preceding year, with only one leading to disciplinary action.

Of the remaining complaints against police officers, 10 were dismissed and one was withdrawn. A further three complaints received last year could not be investigated because court proceedings were ongoing.

In presenting its latest annual report, the PCB once again flagged concerns about a small number of ‘over assertive’ officers risked denting the public’s perception of the Royal Gibraltar Police.

There was a perception by some complainants that officers had been abrupt or uncivil in their approach, particularly in stressful traffic management situations.

Conversely however, the PCB also cautioned that some complaints were malicious in nature and baseless.

“Once again, as in previous years, the PCB has noted that some of the complaints levelled at the police were somewhat groundless and appeared to have been made in a vexatious and retributive manner,” said PCB chairman Albert Danino in a comment in the report.

“However, and notwithstanding the fact that some of the complainants may have been over-reactive or even prejudiced against the RGP when reporting their incidents, there is a predisposition by a few RGP officers to show a certain highhandedness, which unfortunately, causes an element of chagrin and annoyance amongst some members of the public.”

“Albeit, the role of the Police Complaints Board is not only to protect members of the public who genuinely complain about the conduct of persons serving with the police, but also to exonerate police officers who might be the victims of malicious or groundless accusations by members of the public who might bear a grudge against a particular officer, or the force in general.”

The report noted that the Commissioner of Police, Eddie Yome, and his management team were addressing the problem in a bid to enhance the force’s relations with the public.

The RGP’s Professional Standards Department has an on-going programme to encourage its officers to develop interpersonal skills.

“With regard to traffic matters, there has been a very noticeable drop in complaints arising from traffic management at the land frontier with Spain in the past two gave rise to an increase in complaints related to officers mishandling situations when queues and tail backs were a regular feature,” Mr Danino said.

“Regardless of this police officers assigned to duties at the frontier must be commended for generally coping professionally in at times, rather difficult and demanding circumstances in adverse weather conditions.”

The PCB thanked Chief Inspector John Caruana and his team for their professionalism when dealing with complaints and noted the constructive working relationship they share.