Most complaints against police officers last year were dismissed following investigation by the Police Complaints Board [PCB], although concerns remain that a small minority of officers were sometimes perceived as “abrupt and disrespectful” in their dealings with the public.
The PCB investigated 15 complaints last year, of which 10 were not sustained and one was withdrawn, according to its latest annual report released yesterday.
The remaining three – two for neglect of duty, one for abuse of authority – resulted in disciplinary proceedings against the officers concerned.
A further four complaints were yet to be investigated pending the outcome of ongoing court proceedings.
The PCB said a number of complaints could have been avoided and arose from complainants feeling aggrieved that they had been addressed inappropriately.
“As in previous years the investigating sub-committees of the Police Complaints Board have highlighted that a number of complaints made by the public contained some degree of alleged, abruptness or disrespect when the complainants have been approached by certain police officers and, although this is not systematic or generally the case, the perception by the public of this type of behaviour by some, if only a just a few police officers, is of concern,” PCB chairman Albert Danino wrote in the report.
“This has been manifested in situations arising during traffic management at the queues at the land frontier with Spain on days when there have been disproportionate delays and tempers have been high, outside certain schools at drop off and collection times and generally in areas of town where there are traffic hot spots at peak times when traffic tickets are issued or in cases where arrests have been necessary after drugs raids.”
Mr Danino noted the fact that the Royal Gibraltar Police regularly took steps to address ensure continuous professional standards development to help officers enhance their interpersonal skills.
But he also acknowledged that some complaints appeared were not warranted and may have even been malicious.
“Once again, as in previous years, the PCB has noted that some of the complaints levelled at the police were somewhat groundless and appeared to have been made in a vexatious and retributive manner,” Mr Danino wrote in the report.
“However, and notwithstanding the fact that some of the complainants may have been over-reactive or even prejudiced against the RGP when reporting their incidents, there is a predisposition by the occasional RGP officer to show a certain disrespectful tone in addressing the individual, which unfortunately, is disconcerting for some members of the public.”
“Albeit, the role of the Police Complaints Board is not only to protect members of the public who genuinely complain about the conduct of persons serving with the police, but also to exonerate police officers who might be the victims of malicious or groundless accusations by members of the public who might bear a grudge against a particular officer, or the force in general.”
In his report, Mr Danino also reflected on the challenge of policing traffic in the border area, even though last year there were fewer complaints arising from the RGP’s management of large volumes of traffic and people.
“Regardless of this, police officers assigned to duties at the frontier must be commended for generally coping professionally in, at times, rather difficult and demanding circumstances in adverse weather conditions and challenging situations.