Police Federation calls for urgent review of law as two teenagers handed unconditional discharge after assault on officer
Two Spanish teenagers who punched, bit and threw rocks and bricks at a Royal Gibraltar Police officer received a conditional discharge in the Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, in a sentence that was starkly criticised by the Gibraltar Police Federation.
The two 14-year-olds, from Fuengirola and Mijas, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had entered Gibraltar illegally by scaling the fence at Western Beach at around 2.30pm last Tuesday September 5.
Once on the beach, a plain clothes RGP officer identified himself as police and stopped and challenged the teenagers.
One immediately ran off, while the other punched the officer in the face.
The officer detained the teenager who punched him by placing him in an arm lock on the ground.
But while waiting for backup, the second teenager punched the officer, before throwing rocks and bricks at him.
Meanwhile the first teenager bit the officer on the hand.
Gibraltar Defence Police officers arrived a few minutes later at the beach and helped the RGP officer, who had several minor injuries.
The two teenagers were arrested on suspicion of entering Gibraltar other than through an immigration port and assault on police.
Once at New Mole House, one of the defendants was also arrested for assault to prevent arrest.
Both were charged and spent the night at New Mole House before their court appearance.
At the Magistrates’ Court, the teenagers pleaded guilty to all offences.
They were given a conditional discharge of 12 months for the assaults, and time served for the entering Gibraltar illegally.
A conditional discharge means the offender is released and the offence is registered on their criminal record.
No further action is taken unless they commit a further offence within the time limit specified by the court.
The incident and the sentence was criticised by the Gibraltar Police Federation, which said the attack was serious and that the officer was lucky to escape with minor injuries.
“The time has come for those who use violence against law enforcement officers and emergency service agency staff to get a rude awakening by handing them substantial prison sentences for their actions,” the GPF said in a statement.
“Only by doing this will they realise that, in modern Gibraltar society, these actions are unacceptable and will see them spend time at His Majesty's pleasure to consider their actions.”
“It will also go a long way to show officers that their bravery in confronting criminality and violent individuals will not be in vain and that they will be backed by the law, the courts, and the public for their courage and commitment to protect the community.”
“Members of the emergency services have families to support, lives to live and a life of service to give - we are not just a uniform to be attacked by whoever chooses to do so.”
“We call on the government and community alike to condemn this behaviour.”
“We also ask that laws to protect our protectors be reviewed as a matter of urgency so as to apply stronger sentences on those convicted of violence towards officers.”
The GPF said that “time after time” people who assault emergency service workers who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the community “seem to go unpunished”.
“If our protectors do not feel protected, then how are they supposed to keep you all safe?” the GPF asked.