The GSD has called for increased resources for the Royal Gibraltar Police in its fight against the Rock’s “rampant drug scene”.
In a statement expressing concern and setting out how it would look to tackle the issue the GSD highlighted comments made by the Commissioner of Police Ian McGrail in a recent interview with the Gibraltar Chronicle.
This included warnings of increased binge drug taking, the use of harder drugs and a rampant drug scene, the GSD said.
The party added that events surrounding the Monkey Rocks Festival and the Gibraltar Electronic Music Festival illustrate that he was right to focus on this issue in the very honest and stark way that he did.
“The GSD is very worried, as indeed many parents will be, about the reports of multiple drug related arrests at the Monkey Rocks Festival, which is an event designed to attract and does attract, hundreds of young people.”
“Reports have also reached the GSD of foreign nationals associated with organised crime in La Linea attending the event and behaving as if it had been organised in Bogota in the 1980s.”
“The GSD has also been able to ascertain from very reliable sources that a bag of cocaine was discovered in the ladies toilet at the EMF venue, which had clearly been placed there before the event commenced in order to avoid later entry checks.”
“We do not doubt that the organisers of these events work very closely with both Customs and the RGP both before and during the event, but these are serious incidents which we should all, as a community, be concerned about,” the GSD said.
Former Minister for Justice, who holds the current shadow Justice portfolio, Daniel Feetham, said: “Whilst this is not an issue that we seek to subject to the normal cut and thrust of politics, it is very worrying – particularly for parents.”
There are a number of things that the GSD believe could be done in order to help tackle the problem.
“The first is ensuring the police are properly resourced,” Mr Feetham said adding that this was highlighted by the RGP in their Human Resource audit to the Government some years ago.
“The reality is that increases in technological advances in both crime and crime detection have, in many instances, made investigations more labour intensive with officers spending many hours pouring through CCTV footage, computers or electronic data.”
“In addition, there is never a substitute for old fashioned visible policing and British Bobbies on the beat.”
At the moment the RGP is finding it difficult to cope with these increased demands, he said.
“Whilst the GSD has been very vociferous about levels of public spending in certain areas, we have always said we should focus spending on priority areas.”
“This is an issue that affects society as a whole and the wellbeing of our young people in particular,” Mr Feetham said adding that the “human and economic cost is considerable”.
“Ensuring that the RGP is properly resourced to meet these and other modern challenges should be a priority for all of us.”
“Secondly, while HM Customs perform a very difficult job at frontier and we are never going to be able to stop the illicit importation of hard drugs, our own sources both within HM Customs and the RGP indicate that we may have to re-evaluate how detection at the frontier can be improved.”
“It is perhaps worth recalling that barely a few months ago the Mayor of La Linea, Juan Franco, expressed very stark concerns relating to drug related organised crime in his town and told the press that “people expect there to be shootouts here”.
“His comments and a report on the deteriorating situation in La Linea was carried by the Guardian newspaper on 4 April 2018, under the headline “Inside La Línea, the Spanish town in the frontline against drug trafficking”.
Mr Feetham said Gibraltar cannot hermetically seal itself from these developments or ignore increases in organized crime in the neighbouring region.
“We need to respond to them and attempt, difficult as it is, to stay ahead of the curve,” he said.
“Thirdly as a society we must all make an effort to stay vigilant and educate ourselves and our children.”
“In particular, we urge members of the public to come forward and let the RGP know if they have any useful information to help fight the scourge of hard drugs such as MDMA, cocaine and ketamine.”
The GSD has welcomed the RGP’s recent #SeeSomethingSaySomethingPublic social media campaign.
“It is important that people to speak up if they see anything suspicious,” Mr Feetham said.
“The GSD does not have all the answers to what are very complex issues but these are some of the ways we feel this problem could be tackled.”