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RGP launches campaign encouraging female officers on International Women’s Day

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

The Royal Gibraltar Police launched its ‘I Can Do That’ campaign on International Women’s Day and held a stall in the Piazza where officers spoke to the public about the importance of having females in the force.

The stall saw police officers encourage women to join the force and highlighted the need for more representation.

“At the moment we sit at 19% women and that's not representative of our community,” said Police Sergeant Mary De Santos.

“We want a lot more representative because we are an equal opportunities employer.”

“What we want to do is encourage women and show them the potential that they have if they want to join the force.”

Ms De Santos said there are several reasons why she feels women do not join the force.

She added that some women grow up being told they have limitations.

“But the only limitation we have is the limitations that we put on ourselves,” she said.

“And that's what the message is today, that there are no limits to what they can do.”

“Yes, they will have childcare, but men have childcare issues as well.”

“There are things that we can work around and as an employer, we are looking at how we can be more diverse as well.”

Ms DeSantos said “policing is about problem solving”, not just physical attributes and that women are good problem solvers.

“We are because we do it every day in the home,” she said.

“We do it with kids. We do it with family. We help prepare people and help them to develop and change as well. That's what women do.”

“That's what policing is all about. It's not by chasing people anymore.”

To assist with recruitment, the RGP now allow people to take the fitness test, which are held at different dates through the year, and bank that result. Then take the exam when it suits them and bank that result too.

To encourage more women and to remove the self-conscious element of having to take the fitness test alongside men, there are women only tests.

For those concerned that it is an overt male environment in the force Ms DeSantos said: “We are really lucky. There's never been any of that pay inequality.”

“Within policing we are police officers and we do the same job, as our colleagues who are super supportive.”

“We have a lot of our male colleagues here today with us who are women in policing champions, who are here to support us with the campaign as well.”

She highlighted that in some cases, victims of crime prefer to talk to a female officer.

“If women don't actually join the police force, we're not going to have those officers and you're not going to give victims of crime the opportunity to speak to a female which is what they would feel more comfortable with,” she said.

The ‘I Can Do That’ campaign is organised by the RGP’s Women In Policing (WIP) committee and will run for several months.

There are now plans to hold more WIP campaigns around Gibraltar in the coming weeks.

Police Sergeant Tanya McLeod, 30, a Women in Policing committee member, said: “We want to show women that there are no limitations and that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to a career in the RGP."

“We want women to say ‘I Can Do That’ and realise that there are no barriers to stop women progressing in the force.”

Over the coming weeks the RGP will be releasing a number of videos on their social media channels highlighting the roles of different women within the force.

They range from detectives in the Crime Division and Police van drivers on the Response Teams, to Inspectors and Sergeants in various divisions.

The Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, added: “This is a great initiative launched by the RGP which has my full support.”

“This morning I had a chance to speak with various female police officers and they took me through the ways in which we can encourage more women to join the Royal Gibraltar Police.”

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