Police Insight

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.’


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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.

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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.

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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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PROFILE:   DCI TOM TUNBRIDGE

“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.

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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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