Police Insight

Police Insight

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Officers from the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) and Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) have been working towards the first stage of their International Rugby Board, level 1 coaching certificate.

The course was delivered by coaches from the Penguin International Rugby Football Trust who promote the training of young people in rugby throughout the world. They were invited to Gibraltar by the Gibraltar Rugby Football Union (GRFU)’s development coach, Dave Barley. 

The coaching staff of Alun Harries and Dave ‘Cobie’ Cockburn made full use of their many years of experience in order to put the eight trainee coaches through their paces, with a programme that included the methodology of coaching, and the assessment of health and safety issues – as well as the gameplay itself.

An RGP spokesman said, “The original idea came from the Commissioner of Police who heard of the GRFU’s ‘Rugby in School Initiative’ and realised that, the involvement of Police officers and other essential services personnel would provide a perfect platform for interacting with youngsters in a non ‘policing’ or ‘non-emergency’ scenario. It was also clear that the all-inclusive nature, discipline and strong moral code of rugby has much to offer to young people.”

Gibraltar Rugby’s Technical Director, Dave Barley commented, “It will be fantastic to have eight new coaches from the RGP and GFRS who will be able to go into schools and deliver rugby coaching to boys and girls. Part of the project is to deliver a rugby programme but, in this way, we are also educating young people on the work the emergency services do in our wider community. It is important that we break down barriers and allow young people to build a strong relationship with our emergency services.” 

RGP Authorised Firearms Officers recently participated in a FiREArms training day on the Rock. 

The RGP officers carry out regular, intensive training to ensure that they are ready to respond to any eventuality.

Police Insight

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“Fairness, Respect and Discipline are the three qualities that are common to both policing and rugby,” insists Detective Chief Inspector Tom Tunbridge who has spent much of his life involved in both activities.

“But Fun is important too – and I enjoy my job as much as I enjoy my rugby.”

Tom spent his early life flitting between the UK and Gibraltar. He was born in Gibraltar but, when just a baby, his family moved to London and then Essex. Then, when he was 14, the family moved back to the Rock and Tom completed his school education at Bayside School before moving back to UK again to study for a degree in Geography with Business Studies.

Having once again returned to Gibraltar, Tom tried a couple of jobs before deciding that he “wanted to do something to help people in the community” and, as his older brother, Wayne, was enjoying life in the RGP, he decided that he would also join up. In the 23 years since he made that decision, he has spent more than 16 years working in Economic Crime.

The highlight of his career was probably the Marrache case, a four year investigation which, in 2014, ended, with the longest trial in Gibraltar’s history and culminated in the jailing of three brothers who committed a multi-million pound fraud. Modestly, Tom fails to mention that he was Highly Commended for his ‘outstanding dedication, commitment and professionalism in the investigation’.

In the opinion of a member of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, Tom had successfully done the work of 15 specialist fraud officers. 

Another of Tom’s career highlights was his successful work on behalf of the RGP, which led to Gibraltar’s acceptance, in 2015, into Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s mutual evaluation of anti-money laundering processes and procedures.

“I have also been fortunate that my career in Economic Crime has given me the opportunity to travel to such places as the British Virgin Islands, Israel, Romania, Bulgaria, France and Ireland – and I have also been able to assist police forces from the Netherlands, Finland, France, and, of course, Spain and UK.”

Revealingly, DCI Tunbridge insists that his other career highlights come “whenever anyone who works for me gets promoted.”

Away from his police career, much of Tom’s life has revolved around rugby, the game he first started to play when he was at school in Essex. Aged 47, he still plays regularly in the local league and for the GRFU Veterans as well as being head coach of Gibraltar’s under 16 rugby team. When he’s not doing that, he even manages to find time to help coach Gibraltar’s Under 16s basketball team!

After he moved to Gibraltar aged 14, he and his brother Wayne, established a youth rugby team where none existed before. “We pulled together enough kids to allow us to enter a team in the Andalusian league. It meant huge amounts of travelling and even our home games had to be played at Sotogrande because we didn’t have a pitch of our own.”

“About 11 years ago, I saw there was no rugby for younger children. I wanted my 5 year old son to be able to learn the values that rugby teaches so I started a minis’ rugby club with a few nephews and nieces.”

“Kids’ Rugby”, as it is usually known, has since grown massively and now, over 200 youngsters enjoy the training sessions at Europa every Saturday morning.

“The game-changer was getting our own rugby pitch and facilities,” says Tom. “As well as all the youngsters, we now have dozens of adults involved. They help with the coaching and carry out lots of admin jobs. There is a great atmosphere down there on Saturday mornings – it’s a joy to see the speed with which the sport is growing.”

And as he rushes off to another Economic Crime investigation, Tom calls back over his shoulder, “And tell people I’m always looking for new players for my Under 16s rugby team! No experience is necessary! Tell them to call me if they’re interested!”

AHOY – PD Stitch

Police Dog Stitch was out with officers from the Royal Gibraltar Police’s Marine Section, as part of his ongoing training.

His day at sea will help the four-legged crime fighter get used to searching vessels once he’s fully qualified.

PD Stitch, a 10-month old Springer Spaniel, who joined the RGP’s K9 Unit earlier this year, is currently training to become a Drugs Detection Dog.

An RGP spokesman, said, “We are pleased to confirm that Stitch enjoyed his day at sea, and, there was no need for any doggy-paddling.” 

Animal Swim

A charity swim organised by a Royal Gibraltar Police officer has raised over £5,000 for the Animals In Need Foundation (AINF).

The event saw 25 police officers and 15 members of the public join forces at the Gasa Indoor Swimming Pool to swim laps of the pool.

Armed with swimming caps and goggles, the fundraisers swam from 9am to 6pm to raise the funds.

In total, the swimmers covered a combined distance of 27km –the equivalent of going from Tarifa to Morocco and back.

Event organiser and police officer Tania Moreno, who works in the RGP’s Resource Management department, said, “I am so grateful to my colleagues and those members of the public who took the plunge on Saturday to help support us in this event.

“The incredible sum of money will pay for vets, kennels and medication for a number of needy animals and will help sustain us for a month.”

Tania, who has been volunteering at the Gibraltar-based charity for the past four years, explained that it currently looks after more than 60 abandoned dogs.

AINF works with shelters, pounds and other charities, both local and international, to help save abandoned and unwanted animals.

For more information visit www.ainfgib.com and check out our Adopt Don’t Shop page elsewhere in this issue.

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

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.”


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.”


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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