Police Insight

in Features

Life In The Control Room

Have you ever wondered who is on the other end of a 199 emergency call? Meet Police Constable Tom Risso, one of the RGP’s most experienced Control Room officers and get an insight into his role on the invisible frontline and why he loves the job.

It’s one of the most high-pressured jobs in the Royal Gibraltar Police force. 

On an average day, Command and Dispatch (CAD) officers will receive several hundred calls in the Control Room between them – many of them 199 emergencies.

These calls can be about anything from a domestic argument or a serious road traffic accident, to concerns for someone’s mental health or a fight involving weapons.

Working in CAD, they have to dispatch the appropriate officer(s), often making quick decisions, to the callers who are most in need of help. This is while they assess all other incidents waiting for police attendance and make sure the risks involved are not
increasing.

PC Tom Risso is one of over a dozen specially trained CAD officers, who man the Control Room 24 hours a day.

He joined the RGP 20 years ago at the age of 28, and has spent the last seven years as a dedicated Command and Dispatch officer.

Tom, who has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, said: “We get all sorts of emergency calls. But what might not be an emergency to me, as I’ve been here for 20 years, can be an emergency for the caller.

“I’ve had everything from someone’s leaking washing machine, where they don’t know how to switch it off and it’s flooding the house, to
a serious fire, to someone who wants to
commit suicide.

“The regular calls we get are of fights or disturbances, or alcohol related incidents with people getting aggressive.”

Another type of call that is becoming increasingly common in recent months, are those from illegal immigrants crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.

Tom said, “They tend to talk in broken Spanish, but you can’t always understand them or where they are. When this happens we contact our Marine Section to go looking for them and Windmill Hill Station, to see if they can spot anything on the cameras. Most of those who call up think they are calling Spain. What happens is everyone calls 112, which is the international emergency number. But if you are out at sea and you get caught by the Gibtelecom signal, it comes to us, rather than the Spanish police.”


INTERPOL NATIONAL CENTRAL BUREAU CONFERENCE

RGP Inspector Paul Barker recently attended INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau Conference, albeit digitally.

It featured 300 delegates from 167 countries – and every spoken contribution was translated simultaneously into English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Quite a technical feat.

Inspector Barker heads the local INTERPOL office here in Gibraltar, and the purpose of the three day event was to bring the leadership of NCBs together to focus on cooperation among police forces from around the world.

This cooperation may be between NCBs themselves or with INTERPOL’s General Secretariat on operational issues, exchange of best practices – and may provide updates about INTERPOL policing capabilities. 

The conference was opened by Interpol’s President Kim Jong Yang of Korea and its Secretary General, Jürgen Stock from Germany.

“Having direct access to Interpol is of immense value to the RGP”, said Inspector Barker. “We deal with them every working day.”


NEWLY QUALIFIED FIREARMS OFFICERS

After 11 weeks of intensive training, seven RGP officers have passed their Initial Firearms Course and joined the existing team of Armed Response Officers. They are now fully qualified to use a variety of weapons, including the Taser.

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