The Royal Gibraltar Police has strongly rejected claims it had failed to increase police presence in the light of the recent increased threat and insisted “this is false”.
Reacting to the call from the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce calling for more police presence in town this week – on Casemates and Main Street – the RGP has emphasised it continued to “risk assess police deployments in response to threats” as well as mitigating these by always maximizing safety and minimizing the risk to the public.
It assured the general public the force would continue to work towards providing safety to the community of Gibraltar and insists it remains “open to dialogue with those who should be working closer with us”.
But in a further statement yesterday the Chamber of Commerce said it had been disappointed at what it described as the “disparaging manner” in which the RGP has responded to its legitimate expression of concern.
It however stated that the Chamber remained ready to engage in a positive way with the RGP and trusted the RGP would take positive action in response to the concerns of the public.
In its statement the RGP highlighted that in the past six weeks it had experienced one of the most demanding policing periods it has ever had to prepare for, said the statement.
“With the uplift in security, the threats of terrorism, day to day policing business and all the demands that have come with the multitude public events in the build up to National Week, the men and women of the RGP and the staff that support us, have been working extremely demanding hours and under extreme heat. It is unfortunate that their commitment and their desire to offer a professional and determined service appears to have gone unnoticed by the Chamber,” added the RGP statement.
In response to what the statement termed as “some of the inaccurate statements made by the Chamber” it said the RGP was disappointed the Chamber had failed to share their members concerns with the police directly and had instead resorted to publicly question the “value for money in the law enforcement budget”.
The Force accused the Chamber of being totally “unprofessional and irresponsible” and suggested this should have been addressed through mutual dialogue.
“The physical security measures that have recently been introduced in areas around and in Main Street are a deterrent against potential threats, and have been introduced because of persistent risk assessments of our Critical National Infrastructures and the Modus Operandi displayed by terrorists,” said the RGP statement.
It also points out that this has been at the behest of continuous lobbying by the RGP and therefore the Chamber “should relate to it in terms of welcomed security measures, instead of added costs to many local business areas”.
Police officers, continued the statement, as a result of recent press notice terrorist events in Europe had been re-deployed from their normal duties and increased patrols had been undertaken in areas where people congregate.
“This is not only in Main Street, but everywhere in Gibraltar, including our beaches for instance.”
The statement added that there has also been an increased deployment of firearm officers and collaboration with other partners to mitigate the threat.
“This has always, and will continue to happen under the direction and in consultation with the Gibraltar Contingencies Committee [GCC]. Redeploying officers has its consequences and the Chamber needs to understand that by doing this, other policing demands are impacted upon. With this in mind, the Commissioner of Police and his Senior Command are cognisant of ensuring Value for Money [VfM] and assures the public that being one of the most scrutinized public bodies, VfM is at the heart of their routine business, something that both the Gibraltar Police Authority [GPA] and HMGoG are fully aware of,” added the statement.
In reference to the Chamber’s data of the 35% increase to the RGP’s budget from 2011 to 2015, the RGP claims this is misleading and had not been reported in its true context.
“This increase is mainly attributed to salaries. Notwithstanding this, the RGP is currently engaged with HMGoG in a Human Resource Audit, as it feels that the policing demands have exceeded the present compliment. Both the GPA and the RGP Police Federation support this,” said the statement.
In a further statement yesterday Chamber of Commerce insisted that as a responsible and professional organisation the RGP had a duty to address the concerns of its members by highlighting them as appropriate.
“In the past, the Chamber of Commerce has raised issues concerning policing matters directly with the RGP both in meetings and in correspondence to little or no effect. The fact remains that, whether the RGP chooses to admit it or not, there is a real concern by the business community and the public generally of lack of visible police presence in areas where large amounts of pedestrians congregate, a sentiment that has been echoed both privately and publicly by former senior police officers and commissioners of police,” said the statement.