Four officers of the Gibraltar Defence Police have been suspended pending the outcome of further investigation into a small number of “incidents and allegations” that were first raised during a review commissioned by the Commander British Forces last year into the organisation, behaviour and structure of the force, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.
GDP personnel were informed of the development by the CBF, Commodore Mike Walliker, during a ‘Town Hall’ meeting in the naval base yesterday morning. The MoD did not identify the suspended officers by name or rank but the Chronicle understands they include top officials in the force.
The suspensions come in the wake of a review last year following grievances voiced by force personnel and the GDP Federation, whose relationship with senior GDP officers and military managers had become increasingly acrimonious.
The review was led by Superintendent Pam Hewitt, an officer in the UK Ministry of Defence Police who subsequently delivered a “hard hitting” report setting out 44 wide-ranging organisational recommendations that are currently being implemented and were broadly welcomed by both the military command and the GDP Federation.
The recommendations are central to the future of the GDP and, according to the MoD, should make the force “better trained, better equipped, and better organised” to perform its duties.
However during the implementation phase of the Hewitt report, some of the issues raised by GDP personnel were deemed to merit further investigation.
“As part of the restoration phase of the Hewitt report, a senior, independent police officer visited Gibraltar in January this year to review outstanding complaints and allegations,” an MoD spokesman said yesterday.
“As a result of this review a small number of incidents and allegations were deemed more serious in nature and required further investigation.”
“A decision has been taken to suspend a number of officers while the investigations take place.”
The spokesman declined to offer any more details, adding: “As this is an ongoing investigation we are unable to comment further at this stage.”
The MoD has repeatedly insisted that it remains committed to “restoring” the force and exploring long-term options for its future, but the GDP Federation says military bosses are demanding “more for less” from officers, whose morale has suffered as a result.
The latest developments also comes against the backdrop of long-running tensions between senior MoD and GDG management and the GDP Federation over issues including a potential transfer to the Government of Gibraltar and the increasing demands placed on GDP officers in support of local law enforcement agencies both on land and at sea.