Police Insight

Police Insight

in Features

“At any one time, we could be listening to a victim of domestic abuse or taking details over the radio of a suspected drunk driver and, at the same time, we know that there’s a lady downstairs who wants to report that she has lost her mobile phone,” says PC Kasmira Kingsley who is one of the RGP’s Command and Dispatch officers.

This week is International Control Room Week which celebrates and raises awareness of the vital role played by control room teams who deal with traumatic and distressing situations every day of the year.

Last year’s International Control Room Week saw over 200 control rooms and more than 10,000 personnel from police, ambulance, fire and coastguard services across the UK get involved, as well as control rooms from as far afield as the United States, Australia and India.

PC Kingsley, who has been in the RGP for six years, says, “It is impossible to describe a ‘typical’ shift in the Control Room. We deal with everything – from life-or-death emergencies to stupid, time-wasting phone calls. We also get a lot of foul-mouthed abuse. But, at all times, we need to stay calm, attentive, and polite when dealing with every caller.’

Another of the RGP’s Controllers is PC Jayron Walker who has been a police officer for just over three years. ‘Despite being quite junior, I think of Controllers as ‘the brains’ of the RGP. We receive lots of information over the police radios and from telephone calls and then we quickly assess that information before deciding which of our ‘limbs’ to use. Do we send a firearms unit? A van with extra officers? Could it be just a hoax?  

“We allocate a Grade to every incident: a Grade 1 is an emergency which must have an immediate response but it could last for some time. I was on duty when we had a man threatened to end his life and that took several hours and a lot of police manpower to resolve. At the other end of the scale we might allocate a routine event as Grade 4 which will be followed up when time permits.”  These decisions are quickly made by the Controller without any reference to a more senior officer.

The Control Room is manned by two Constables, 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the Controllers working on a three shift pattern, ‘Mornings’ (7am – 3pm), ‘Lates’ (2pm – 11pm) and ‘Nights’ (10pm – 8am). 

Mornings shifts are characterised by lots of administrative matters. Members of the public tend to make enquiries about lost property or they call to ask for details of ongoing investigations. Meanwhile officers being allocated to attend court, transport needs to be arranged for prisoners and Roads Policing officers are calling in with details of driving offences during the morning rush hour. 

In the afternoons, as children leave school and workers go home, the nature of the calls changes – there are more reports of anti-social behaviour, bad driving and domestic abuse. Later in the evening, the number of alcohol-related crimes starts to increase – reports come in of drunk drivers, fights and assaults, more domestic abuse, Road Traffic Collisions, border queues and so on. It is not unusual, especially during ‘Lates’ on a Friday, for there to be several major issues all running at once. “You get so busy that you can’t even speak to the other Controller – and anyway, he or she is just as busy as you are.”

The Night shift tends to have fewer incidents but often they can be the more serious ones – burglaries, break-ins, and very drunk drivers. 

But, throughout all the shifts there are always the irritating calls, “I’m calling the police emergency number 119 because I haven’t got any credit on my phone. What time does the ice cream van come to my estate?”

And, at least twice every shift, the Controllers will respond to an elderly person’s Panic Button going off. This usually means that officers must immediately be dispatched to the person’s home, often to find that an ambulance is required. 

Officers chosen for Controller training tend to have certain skills. They have the ability to stay calm in an emergency, they are good listeners and they must have endless supplies of patience. It also helps to be fluent in Spanish.

Kasmira says that being a Controller brings lots of job satisfaction.

“One night I took a poor-quality call in which a man was screaming in a mixture of French and Spanish so I deployed our Marine Section and, as a result, they were able to save the lives of several Moroccan men whose boat was sinking off Europa Point. There have been many other occasions when I have sent officers to intervene in cases of some nasty domestic abuse. When this happens, I get a real feeling of satisfaction from having played my part in helping someone who was in trouble.”

Jayron added, “I remember a night when I took a report about a missing child. The mother was understandably distraught but, by getting her to calm down and talk to me, I was able to work out where the child might be hiding. Officers went to investigate and found the child where I’d thought he might be. I got a good feeling from having done my bit to find him.”

Most people will never need to call the RGP Control Room, but if they do, we hope that, they understand that the officer on the other end of the line may also be dealing with several other important issues and with various people all wanting their problem to be dealt with, immediately. That public awareness is one of the main aims of International Control Room Week.

Who knows, it might be Kasmira or Jayron who you are speaking to …


Tony’s Retirement

The Royal Gibraltar Police has said goodbye to PC 118 Tony de Soto, who is retiring from the force, after nearly 14 years of service. 

Tony joined the RGP in 2009 at the age of 41 and worked for several years in the Response and Community Policing Team.

For the last eight years, he has mostly worked in the Armed Response Vehicle team and in his spare time he is a keen member of the Gibraltar Pistol Association.

He came third in the Open Senior event at an international shooting competition at O Pinhal in Portugal earlier this month.

Tony, 54, said, “I’m very proud and honoured to have served Gibraltar and if I could do it all again, I would.”

An RGP spokesperson, said, “PC De Soto, thanks for your years of service to Gibraltar and its people.

“We hope you enjoy your well-earned retirement and we wish you all the best.”

Happy retirement Tony, from all you friends at Insight and thought Gibraltar.

Police Insight

in Features

International Police Association Games 2022

A number of RGP officers are celebrating after competing in the International Police Association Games 2022 in Montenegro this week.

Held in the coastal town of Bar, 11 RGP officers battled it out in Shooting and a Futsal Tournament against 26 police forces from around the world.

The RGP came a respectable 9th in the Shooting out of 15 teams, with Sgt Sam Cottam finishing 27th, Sgt Craig Philbin coming 32nd and Inspector Albert Fernandez coming 36th in the individual shooting events out of 60.

Unfortunately, in the futsal competition the RGP’s team of eight did not progress past the group stages.

Sgt Craig Philbin, said: “Considering it was our first time using target air pistols we did remarkably well against some very accomplished shooters. The futsal team were unlucky not to progress past the group stages but gave some impressive performances.

“Abdel Rahmouni scored what is arguably the best goal of the tournament with a 20- metre rocket shot that left the goalkeeper helpless in the match against the Polish team. His post goal celebration has been the talk of the games and many friendships have been forged with our brother and sister officers from around the world.

“This is entirely in keeping with the motto of the IPA, which is ‘Service Through Friendship’.”

The IPA Games take place every two years and are open to serving police officers around the world.


Royal Gibraltar Police receives Silver Award

The Royal Gibraltar Police has received a Silver Award for supporting the Armed Forces community on the Rock.

The news comes just six months after the RGP signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, a Ministry of Defence scheme where organisations pledge to treat service personnel and their families with fairness and respect.

A Silver Award is given to organisations who actively demonstrate support of the Armed Forces and encourage others to do the same.

The scheme, which saw the RGP receive a Bronze Award last November, also encourages the RGP and the MOD to liaise with charities and organisations to help the local military community in a number of areas.

In recent years, several police forces and organisations in UK have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant.

The Commissioner of Police Richard Ullger, said: “We are very proud to have received this award. A number of our serving officers and staff come from a Forces background. The military has also been an integral part of Gibraltar’s history for the past 300 years. So we will support the Armed Forces in any way that we can.”

The Commissioner added that the RGP are also encouraging local businesses, community groups and individuals to work with the Force, by pledging their support to armed forces personnel and their families, as well as to reservists and veterans.

Colonel Mark Underhill OBE DL, Chief Executive at the North West of England and the Isle of Man Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association, said: “On behalf of the Ministry of Defence, we are honoured and delighted to be able to recognise the outstanding support and commitment given to the Armed Forces Covenant by businesses and organisations through the Employer Recognition Scheme awards.

“Each recipient has demonstrated not only that their support to the Covenant and the wider Armed Forces community, but also that they are prepared to support their Reservists, Service Leavers, Spouses, Veterans, Cadet Force Adult Volunteers and Cadets in the workplace.”

Police Insight

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RGP Family fun day raises
Thousands for Charity

Police Insight

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Super heroes in our community

The RGP’s Community Policing Officers were recently invited to St Bernard’s First School to talk about “Super Heroes in Our Community”.

Youngsters were able to ask PC Steve Peach why he became an RGP officer, and how police help people in the community.

The pupils were then able to try their hand at putting on police uniforms.

Commendations

Two police officers received commendations from the Royal Gibraltar Police’s Commissioner for excellent work in relation to a domestic abuse case.

Police Constable Terence McCormack and Detective Constable Stephen Cracknell received the awards after their actions were described as “essential” in bringing about a successful prosecution.

PC McCormack’s dedication and commitment towards the victim in the case was noted, while DC Cracknell took a decisive Victim Impact Statement.

During the incident, the female victim felt that her life was in danger. The actions of the two officers helped to secure a three-year sentence for a local man. He was found guilty on multiple charges of assault and of false imprisonment.

(L to R) PC Terence McCormack, Commissioner of Police Richard Ullger, Assistant Commissioner of Police Cathal Yeats and DC Stephen Cracknell

Wear a hat day

Officers and civilian staff at the Royal Wear a Hat Day at New Mole House.

The event raises awareness and funds for the UK-based charity Brain Tumour Research.

Police Insight

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It’s a busy department that most of the public don’t even know exists

Yet, the Force Intelligence Unit is at the heart of all of the RGP’s major investigations and policing strategies. From gathering intelligence on upcoming major events and keeping tabs on prolific offenders, to analysing crime hot spots and working with local and international law enforcement agencies, it’s fair to say Force Intel have their fingers in a lot of pies.

The unit is under the command of Detective Inspector Paul Barker, who has worked in the RGP for 20 years.

Paul, 45, who is originally from Sheffield, said, “Every large case that hits the headlines in one form or another will have had some involvement from Force Intelligence.

“We are responsible for collating, analysing and disseminating intelligence from a multitude of sources, including police officers, the public, HM Customs, the Gibraltar Defence Police, local and international law enforcement and security agencies, to name a few.

“With this information we provide intelligence to give our officers and other law enforcement agencies the tools they need to help identify offenders and bring people to justice.

“In a nutshell, we are a very busy office.”

All officers in the RGP for example, are encouraged to report intelligence and record it on the force’s intelligence system.

He added, “Once received, analysts check the information and then grade it, before uploading the sanitised intelligence, which officers can access 24 hours a day.”

Focused intelligence reports can then be distributed to policing teams, so that a fuller picture can be compiled about the criminal activity or offending behaviour of individuals or groups. This might result in more targeted foot patrols, search warrants and arrests.

Paul, who served in the Intelligence Corps of the British Army for a number of years before joining the RGP, said that certain departments in high risk policing areas within the RGP request information regularly; these include all the Crime Teams and Response Teams.

And, many people might not know that Force Intel is also home to Gibraltar’s Interpol Branch. So how does Interpol fit into the team?

Paul explained: “I also run the Interpol Gibraltar office. This is a sub-Bureau of the National Central Bureau in Manchester, which is the headquarters of Interpol in the UK.

“This means that we have direct access to Interpol databases and the 194 Interpol countries and their criminal data as well. It’s very useful in terms of being able to share information quickly and being able to assist in both foreign and local investigations.”

Paul continued, “We often work with Interpol. An example of this work might be if a registered sex offender comes to Gibraltar, we will receive a travel notification about this.

“We will then work with our Public Protection Unit to ensure that all the necessary safeguards are in place and that our officers know who is travelling. The sex offender may have conditions or restrictions as a result of crimes that they have committed in other jurisdictions.

“There will also be information requests from other countries asking us to share criminal data that we have on particular individuals.”

As for the close-knit team that works under Paul, there is a Detective Sergeant and two Detective Constables, who work as analysts.

He explained, “They analyse and interpret the information, so that actionable intelligence can be used for investigations or for officers on the ground that need that information quickly.

“The aim is to build the wider intelligence picture, which can be compared to finding the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, in order to understand what is happening.”

And what sort of officers are best suited to work in Force Intel?

“We look for officers who are logical, analytical, have good reasoning skills and are able to decipher and unpick large amounts of information to identify what is relevant and what is not – and what potentially, might be the golden nugget.”

Another interesting branch of Force Intel is the role of the Football Liaison Officers (FLO), whose role has become more important since Gibraltar joined UEFA in 2013.

In the RGP, the FLO’s job is to help prevent public order problems at football matches involving all Gibraltar’s teams at home or abroad.

Paul said, “Part of the job is to ensure that football hooligans don’t cause us problems. We use intel to decide how big our police officer deployment should be for each match, and whether we are likely to have any issues or not.

“For higher risk games, such as the recent FC Copenhagen visit, we were in contact with FLOs from the Danish police in the months leading up to the game. These ‘Copenhagen spotters’ came out to Gibraltar and patrolled with us on the night, providing good intel, identifying known risk supporters and engaging with them in order to prevent problems.”

As for the best thing about working in Force Intel, he said, “There are always investigations ongoing where we provide intelligence support in order to prevent and detect crime, which provides a lot of job satisfaction.

“It’s very interesting and varied work where we are dealing with information and intelligence that helps our officers to bring offenders to justice.”

Police Insight

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Special Branch

“Our work has three main strands – Counter-Terrorism, Immigration issues and VIP personal protection,’ says Inspector Neil Zammitt who heads up the RGP’s Special Branch. ‘But absolutely everything that we do is linked to Gibraltar’s national security.’

Inspector Zammitt explains that Special Branch plays a key role in protecting Gibraltar from threats to its national security, especially those from terrorists and other extremists. It is responsible for acquiring and analysing intelligence through various methods, the monitoring of travellers at Gibraltar’s points of entry, surveying of critical national infrastructure and delivering protective security advice.

“Gibraltar is unusual in that it has a land frontier with another jurisdiction, a busy commercial port and an international airport,” says the Inspector. “And there are very few police forces anywhere else who have all those three to monitor.

“Within our remit of ‘Ports Policing’, we need to keep an eye on these three entry points into Gibraltar. Clearly, we cannot check every individual who arrives on the Rock but we do look out for certain patterns – someone who claims to be ‘a holiday maker’ but who perhaps flies in and out of Gibraltar suspiciously often. Or we may spot that someone makes regular visits to particular countries immediately prior to their visits to Gibraltar. We might need to have a chat with such people to ask for an explanation of their reasons for being on the Rock.”

“A large part of the job involves liaison, sometimes daily, with a wide variety of law-enforcement agencies. Within Gibraltar, we work closely with Border and Coastguards, HM Customs, Gibraltar Defence Police, the MOD’s Joint Provost and Security Unit and with the Government.

“In the UK we have close links with UK Border Force, the National Crime Agency, the Counter Terrorism Support Unit and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure.

In Spain, we are in regular contact with Cuerpo Nacional de Policia and the Guardia Civil.” Clearly, the international exchange of information is a key part of the job.

Neil Zammitt also manages two particular projects in order to protect and support Gibraltar’s businesses and public sector with the aim of reducing the vulnerability to criminal and terrorist threats. The first is Project Citadel, an outreach programme which aims to raise security awareness and the promotion of community vigilance by encouraging the reporting of suspicious individuals and behaviours in order to thwart terrorist threats and networks.

The second is Project Servator which describes police activity that aims to disrupt a range of criminal activity, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for the public. The approach relies on building a network of vigilance made up of business and community partners and the general public. Project Servator is different to normal policing as officers involved are specially trained to spot tell-tale signs that someone may be carrying out hostile reconnaissance.

Another area of Special Branch is that of VIP protection. When working, and sometimes even when he is off-duty, the Chief Minister is always accompanied by Special Branch’s specially-trained Close Protection Officers and, depending on circumstances, it is sometimes necessary for him to be accompanied by more than one officer. Visiting politicians and dignitaries may also require a similar level of protection.

Neil Zammitt feels that a time spent in Special Branch always looks good on an officer’s CV. “But it’s not just that we feel that it’s good for our careers. We get a lot of job satisfaction from being in this department. We know that we are being trusted to deal with some very sensitive information and it is this information which provides the top layer of security for Gibraltar.”

“Personally the biggest case in which I was involved during my time in Special Branch was Operation Iceberg in which, supported by the Policía Nacional, we dismantled an organised criminal group which was smuggling migrants from Morocco to Europe. In 2018/19, these migrants primarily arrived in Gibraltar by plane or ferry from Morocco. In Gibraltar they were picked up by members of the organised criminal group and driven to Spain, hidden in off-road vehicles with tinted windows. In Spain, the migrants were provided with temporary accommodation or bus tickets to travel to another part of Spain or to cross over to other EU Member States. This criminal operation had a presence in 18 Spanish provinces and five European countries but it was halted when house searches were carried out in Gibraltar and Spain resulting in the arrest of 47 people and the seizure of large amounts of cash.

And the downsides of the job? “Well, Special Branch never sleeps! We need to be available 24/7 and this can certainly have an impact on your family life. My phone is never switched off and it never leaves my side.”

It is reassuring to know that, in its small but dedicated Special Branch, the Royal Gibraltar Police has officers who are so totally committed to protecting our national security.

Next time you are passing through the airport you may be reassured to know that some of the people who seem to be waiting for family in Arrivals or having coffee in Departures are actually our Special Branch officers helping to keep our community safe.


Spray Endurance

New RGP recruits got to grips with the painful effects of Captor Spray during a recent training session.

As part of their week-long Personal Safety Training, the recruits were sprayed with the incapacitant spray to learn about its effects first hand.

All Response Team officers in the RGP carry the spray, which is used as a non- lethal defensive weapon against violent offenders or those resisting arrest.

The effects of the spray are an immediate loss of vision, short-term pain and extreme discomfort, symptoms that last between 15-30 minutes.

No permanent damage is caused and no medical treatment is needed.

Sergeant Paul Chiara, who organised the exercise, said: “There are two main reasons why we do this. Firstly, so officers understand the effects of Captor Spray and they can practice the relevant after care on persons that have been exposed to it.

“Even if someone has assaulted a police officer and has been sprayed, we have a duty of care to our suspects and we have to be able to control them if they have been incapacitated – as it is painful.

“The other reason is to experience how bad the pain is, as you always run the risk of getting exposed by mistake while on duty. This way the officers get to feel what the effects will be like in case they are accidentally sprayed, so that they don’t start panicking and they know how to take care of themselves whilst other officers can take care of the suspects.”

Captor Spray is similar to pepper spray and is dispensed from a handheld canister in a liquid stream.

Police Insight

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Joint Drink Driving Campaign

Gibraltar Defence Police once again collaborated with the Royal Gibraltar Police in an annual Drink Driving Campaign.

During the Festive period, the GDP assisted the RGP within and in the vicinity of MOD property.

At the launch of the initiative, Sergeant Dylan Borastero stressed, “Please act responsibly, be safe and if you are going to have a drink, do not drive. Drink driving can have life changing consequences. Don’t take any chances, leave your car at home.”


RGP Staff Awards

The Commissioner of Police, Richard Ullger, has recently presented two annual staff awards at New Mole House Police Headquarters..

The Gavin Clinton Constable of the Year Award

The Gavin Clinton Constable of the Year Award was presented to PC 156 Alex Povedano.

Superintendent Nolan Romero describes PC Povedano as “a hard working officer who is highly professional and who always demonstrates high standards of integrity.

He is an experienced Command & Dispatch officer and, during the last year, he has developed his role and provided new Controllers with the necessary training to enable them to carry out their duties in the most effective way. He has also enhanced some of the IT systems which are in place to support the Control Room.”

The Support Staff Employee of the Year Award

The Support Staff Employee of the year award went to Keiron Dawson who has been the RGP’s Marine Mechanic for over 8 years.

He is described by his senior management as follows: “Keiron has been a fully committed and hardworking member of the Marine Section Team and has carried out and performed his duties in an exemplary manner throughout the years that he has undertaken his role. Upon the retirement of the last Fleet Manager, Keiron has stepped up to the challenge and has played a vital and instrumental part in the maintenance and repairs of all RGP vessels and has also assisted his colleagues at the Marine Section, without any hesitation whenever it has been required of him.

This has not gone unnoticed. He is a very valued member of the RGP Marine Section Team and this award is an acknowledgement of his efforts and dedication.”

Commissioner Richard Ullger said:

‘It is never easy to single out just two members of our hard-working team and this has been another extra-ordinary year of policing during a pandemic.

But, no matter what difficulties they faced, this year’s two recipients are both well-deserving of their awards and I am delighted to recognise their contribution to the work of the RGP.’


Police Insight

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To raise awareness for the Feed A Family campaign, under the St George’s Charity, on Friday 19th November the RGP faced one of their toughest challenges yet – a training with Jojo Ruby France.

Devils Press, tyre flipping and hitting with hammers, weighted wall balls, and more.

Just to feel some discomfort which is a fraction of the discomfort that many families in Spain face not being able to get enough food. 

€250 feeds a family of 4 for a month.

To donate, go to gofundme.com/f/StGeorgeXmas2021


Refresher Training

​The Royal Gibraltar Police’s Search Team and Police Support Unit were recently put through their paces during three days of intense refresher training. 

Search Officers must pass a yearly written exam and a practical search – where they have to find hidden explosive devices – in order to remain licensed. 

Together with the Gibraltar Defence Police Search Advisors, they studied methods of attack, how to recognise various types of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other items used by terrorists.

Meanwhile, the Police Support Unit were busy doing public order training – ahead of Gibraltar’s upcoming international football matches. 

PSU officers are trained to deal with a variety of public order situations over and above those faced by uniformed police officers.

Police Insight

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Restart a Heart

A number of RGP officers and support staff donned their favourite football shirts to raise awareness and funds for the Gibraltar Cardiac Association’s Restart A Heart Day.

The idea behind the event is to help raise awareness of CPR and
defibrillators.

In addition, £35 was raised for the charity through donations from those wearing the shirts.


Multi-Agency Safety

Three RGP officers have been learning the ropes during a multi-agency safety at sea course this week.

PCs Jotham Olivero, Mark Penalver and Kasmira Kingsley have now taken their first step to joining the RGP’s Marine Section, by completing the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping course at Gibraltar University.

They joined colleagues from the Department of the Environment and HM Customs.

Police Insight

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RGP & GFRS RUGBY COACHING COURSE

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.

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