Viewpoint Season 8 - Episode 33 - 26/05/22 - Commissioner of Police

Season 8 - Episode 33 - 26/05/22 - Commissioner of Police

The Royal Gibraltar Police’s detection rate has remained in line with previous years despite an 81% spike in crimes during 2020/21 as a result of changes in the way offences are recorded.

Details of the detection rate – meaning the number of offences where suspects have been charged – and the overall crime statistics are set out in the latest annual report from the Gibraltar Police Authority, covering the 2020/21 period.

The spike does not mean an increase in crime in Gibraltar, but rather that offences that were not recorded in the past now form part of the statistics.

The changes implemented recommendations made by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) following an audit of the RGP.

Crime reports are now completed in a “more meticulous and victim-focused manner”, the Commissioner of Police, Richard Ullger, said in a message included in the GPA report.

“So, whilst in the past we may not have recorded some of the types of activity reported, we now do.”

“Some of these additional crimes have been historical sexual offences and others related to [domestic abuse], evidence of increased public confidence in reporting crime.”

“There has also been a spike in recorded noise offences, with proactive enforcement taking place to address any issues of Anti-Social Behaviour.”

“Crime detections have remained almost the same overall, so with the notable increase in crime reporting, I am pleased to see that detections are running at 41%, just 3% lower than last year.”

By the end of March 31, 2021, the RGP recorded a total of 2,884 crimes in comparison to 1,589 crimes recorded in the previous year.

Crime detections “remained almost the same overall”, Mr Ullger said, with 41% of people charged, which is three percent lower than last year.

Six key priority areas were identified as objectives for the year in review, namely protecting national security; tackling crime and protecting people at risk of harm; safer roads; increasing public confidence; internal service delivery and adapting the service for new and emerging threats.

The RGP have achieved 72% of its objectives, there is work ongoing on 21% of its objectives and it has not achieved 7% of its objectives.

Going forward, the GPA and RGP will work on three-year policing plans to allow policing plans time “to bed down” after it was found one-year plans were “too restrictive and constrained”, GPA Chair, Dr Joseph Britto, said.

Mr Ullger described this as a “report with a difference”, adding: “We have done away with reporting solely on different targets and replaced this with being more concise about our Policing Priorities and Initiatives, with our Resources and Finances and then with the new crime statistics.”

It was during this period that Mr Ullger took up the post Commissioner after the retirement of former Commissioner of Police, Ian McGrail.

It was also a challenging time for policing against a backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 33% of the workforce absent at the height of the pandemic.

Mr Ullger said the RGP “had to learn how to adapt and respond to fighting crime, resourcing teams, and, most importantly, protecting the people of Gibraltar”.

The RGP’s Project Servator was deployed 321 times over this period, with 24 arrests carried out.

Officers from the Victim Support Team received specialist training from Greater Manchester Police, and since February 2021, all victims of crime are contacted by the team and offered support.

Some 293 victims were seen between January 1 and March 31, 2021.

The RGP is also working towards tackling re-offending by juveniles, and Youth Offending Team research was carried out by the RGP towards creating a multi-agency approach to dealing with young offenders.

The RGP also saw the launch of a dedicated domestic abuse team.

“Building and maintaining a rapport with individuals is key across police work but perhaps nowhere more than in the Domestic Abuse Team,” the report read.

“Often, survivors of abuse have experienced a great deal of trauma and their idea of trust can be completely broken.”

“When they finally find the strength to reach out and ask for support, it is imperative the police and partner agencies do everything they can to achieve the best outcome for that person.”

“They may not get a second opportunity if they lose the trust of the victim.”

“The criminal justice system is not always the best solution to help the victim end the cycle of abuse.”

“By having dedicated officers permanently dealing with domestic abuse incidents, the RGP is better placed to form professional relationships with their colleagues in the Care Agency and Gibraltar Health Authority.”

Mr Ullger said the RGP’s Command Team have “witnessed some notable improvements” in the organisation.

“Through a different leadership style and a commitment to the Code of Ethics, our leaders are now more engaged, making decisions and learning from mistakes, thus embracing a learning culture in favour of a blame one,” he added.

“Equally, we have confronted the concerns of the workforce regarding bullying, and, through a mature approach, we have engaged with the Gibraltar Police Federation to provide confidence amongst our people to actively confront any inappropriate behaviours.”

The RGP does not have a devolved budget, as is the case in the UK, and funds are linked to the Gibraltar Government’s central fund.

In 2020/2021, the RGP spent just under £1.4million in overtime expenditure.

It has generated a total of £241,249, with £173,600 from fines for traffic offences and £67,649 generated through the provision of police services.

In line with the HMICFRS recommendations published in 2020, the GPA and RGP said they are open to more modern funding arrangements, in line with the practice in the UK, whereby at least a proportion of savings and revenue generated can be linked to the RGP's funding mechanism.

The GPA has yet to make formal representations to the Government of Gibraltar in this respect, however.

Dr Britto said he is “extremely happy” with the progress achieved so far on the transformative process embarked upon by Commissioner Ullger and his Senior Command Team.

Dr Britto said that while many of the changes implemented within the RGP were as a “direct result” of the HMICFRS recommendations, “quite a few are also the result of the force’s own introspection and self-review.”

“I have been privy to the work that has gone on in the background and have myself witnessed the detailed submissions presented at the progress meetings held between senior members of the RGP and representatives of HMICFRS,” Dr Britto said.

“The zeal and enthusiasm evident at these meetings are worthy of commendation."

He added: "Whilst the Authority acknowledges the excellent progress made so far, it is also cognisant of the work that is still necessary for the RGP to complete its transformation into a 21st century Force, so that it can better continue to meet the expectations of our 21st Century Gibraltar."