Morale within the Royal Gibraltar Police is at an all time low according to a survey by the Police Federation.
Low staffing levels, it says, have caused the blue line to be stretched paper thin with only the good will and work ethic of the ranks stop it from snapping altogether.
Under 10 % are satisfied with the progress made in the last year or have faith the issues highlighted by the survey will be dealt with. The Federation states officers feel they’re not being heard nor taken seriously by neither management nor Government.
Although the results of the survey may be depressing, they’re not surprising with many of the issues highlighted in it having been voiced before.
Only 55 % of members completed the survey with the Federation of the view that this reflects a lack of confidence in positive action by the Command.
66 percent of those who did respond believe morale is low or very low and only half view the RGP as a long-term career.
The reasons for this range from poor organisational management, high stress levels and a poor work/life balance coupled with the fact that officers feel this isn’t remunerated and they could be earning more elsewhere. In fact
97 % of officers are dissatisfied with their salary and allowances when compared to other uniformed bodies.
A lot of the pressure is down to low staffing levels. 86 percent of those polled said their department was not at full complement and only 9 percent of officers stated they feel safe while carrying out operational duties. The extra pressures are resulting in exhaustion, burnout and lack of motivation with 90 % of those polled asking for more resources.
Only 8 % were satisfied with the level of welfare and after-care provided by the force after an incident.
The creation of an anti-bullying advisory committee appears to have resulted in a continuing positive trend. Figures on bullying concerns have decreased but remain alarming with 51 percent claiming to have been bullied over the past year. Only 16 % would be willing to report bullying at work and 10 percent would be confident of reporting matters through the grievance procedure process.
Police Commissioner Richard Ullger says there's no doubt that, despite working increasingly closely with the new faces at the Federation, the RGP’s Command Team is disappointed with the results of the survey.
He adds that as causes of their low morale, officers have understandably highlighted factors such as stretched resources, retention issues, the “whistleblowers” and the Public Inquiry.
Mr Ullger also feels that while officers are aware that a new Police Headquarters building has been promised, they are very frustrated with the current lack of facilities at New Mole House and by the poor standard of I.T infrastructure.
Jonathan Scott looks at the Commissioner's response to the report.
The Commissioner notes that, while bullying continues to be cited as a problem, there's been a fall in the number of officers who report they've been a victim of it.
Richard Ullger highlights measures implemented such as the Anti-Bullying Advisory Committee, mentioned in the report, and its regular meetings. He adds the RGP is also tackling the issue through leadership courses.
However, he says, the most significant feature of the survey is that of the overall low morale amongst officers, adding the Command is well aware of this problem. which subsumes such matters as work-related stress, the lack of refreshment breaks, changes to officers’ rest days, poor work/life balance and high stress levels. And, Officers’ low morale, he adds, may also impact on their views of their salaries and allowances.
Mr Ullger states that in this respect, the Command fully understand the GPF’s conclusions of the strain put on the force by under staffing and the creation of departments, many as a result of HMIC recommendations, without extra manpower.
He adds the RGP will continue to address the many concerns and looks forward to working even more closely with the new GPF.
However, he believes that despite the many issues raised by the Survey, the vast majority of officers are proud to serve their community and genuinely want to pursue and bring to justice those who break the law.