Forty four recommendations outlined in a “hard-hitting” report into the “behaviours and structure” of the Gibraltar Defence Police will be enacted in order to “restore” the force, Commander British Forces Commodore Mike Walliker said yesterday.
The report is the product of a review into the GDP instigated by Commodore Walliker and drawing in the Ministry of Defence Police as a result of a number of grievances voiced by force personnel and the Gibraltar Defence Police Federation.
Among the recommendations contained within the report is that the vote of no confidence made against Chief Police Officer Rob Allen by GDP officers earlier this year was “unfounded” and “should not have occurred”.
“His position today is absolutely as strong as it ever has been,” Commodore Walliker said.
“I said in April that he enjoyed the full confidence of His Excellency the Governor, joint Force Commander and me.”
There are also a number of “quick fix” recommendations contained within the report such as training as well as issues likely to take slightly longer to iron out but are likely to be implemented over a period of between six to nine months.
A shake-up of the structure of the GDP will also follow as a result of the report’s recommendations.
Speaking to the Chronicle yesterday, Commodore Walliker was keen to draw a distinction between the work of the review and progress on the proposed transfer of the GDP to the Gibraltar Government through an amalgamation with the Royal Gibraltar Police.
However, he explained: “As we look ahead, some of the recommendations that are in that review will clearly sign-post the way towards whatever we decide to do.”
The report will not be made public although copies have been distributed to Federation members.
The report is the latest development in a situation that has seen increasingly acrimonious relations between the MoD and the Federation over the transfer and other issues.
The Federation says the MoD is demanding “more for less” from GDP officers – including duties to support the RGP both at sea and on land – but is not moving ahead with the transfer in the meantime.
The Federation says uncertainty about their future was impacting morale at the force, adding that its ability to represent members is being restricted by the military command.
But the MoD has rejected those claims and has stood by Mr Allen after GDPF members took a vote of no confidence in him earlier this year.
“About six months ago it became clear that I needed to take some internal action and to announce the formation of a review into the GDP in order to understand the behaviours and what the management organisation of the GDP were with a bid to reforming it, restoring it before then taking forward the agenda,” Commodore Walliker said.
The review panel arrived in June and spent two weeks on the Rock with the majority of their time spent interviewing 72 out of the 95 GDP personnel.
Armed with a “huge amount of data and information” the panel returned to the UK and the report drafted.
The final report was presented to the entire workforce of the GDP at a meeting yesterday afternoon in order to announce the findings.
“The report, I’d describe as hard hitting, and makes a number of conclusions and a number of recommendations,” Commodore Walliker said.
“Those recommendations total 44 and the MoD, this has gone up to ministers, [and they] have agreed conclusions, accepted the recommendations and effectively detailed that they should now be enacted in full.”
Commenting on the issues surrounding the vote of no confidence, Commodore Walliker said: “The recommendation about the vote of no confidence has led to some recommendations about the structure of the police federation.”
“It was found to be a bit top-heavy, and in being top-heavy it meant that the Chief Police Officer was unable to manage his police force because the federation was over-represented at the more senior ranks,” he said.
Staff had also raised concerns as to the type of training they were receiving and how quickly they were getting it and training events will be held for all supervisors.
Superintendent Pam Hewitt, of the Ministry of Defence Police and who helped conduct the review, highlighted “conflicts” within the force and explained that they would be carrying out conflict-management exercises with the supervisors to ensure they have the skills to deal with that in a “more professional way rather than quite adversarial so that they can get on better and quicker”.
Also contained within the report are the concerns raised by GDP officers regarding their personal protection equipment.
“To be fair to the command team this was already in train but it hadn’t been put into the plan so that’s another relatively quick fix but will make a big difference to staff,” Superintendent Hewitt said.
“Also, because it’s quite a small force, GDP, what we’ve put into the recommendations is that there is a memorandum of understanding between GDP and the MDP which is a much bigger force and have specialists in firearms, dogs and marine so they can have that reach-back facility to be able to get help and assistance when they need to,” she said.
Issues of discipline will also be passed to another force.
“When a small force even has a relatively small discipline issue it’s hard for them to investigate themselves, so the recommendation is that that will be passed to another force to allow that to happen so it doesn’t impact so much on day-to-day business,” she said, adding that staff will be “very happy” about that recommendation.
The MoD has committed itself to auctioning and resourcing all of the recommendations.