A lack of manpower and high organisational demands are impacting morale within the Royal Gibraltar Police, the Gibraltar Police Federation [GPF] indicated yesterday following the publication of a staff survey.
The Federation flagged issues such as officers’ workloads, shift patterns as well as bullying and health and safety concerns.
But it insisted that the problems highlighted are not just attributed to a lack of manpower.
“Constant issues regarding low manning levels and high organisational demands have not helped with the situation,” the GPF said in a statement accompanying the results of the survey.
The Federation said it has continuously brought up issues such as working conditions, morale, and manning levels with the Commissioner of Police and Senior Management Team which have notably increased due to the changing landscape of policing.
It added that it has fully supported the Human Resources business case as proposed by the Commissioner of Police and his Senior Management Team to the Gibraltar Government.
“Though the Commissioner of Police has assured the Federation that the Chief Minister and the Government are in favour of increasing the police compliment, we are still waiting for this to materialize,” the Federation stated.
The publication of the survey drew a tough response from RGP Commissioner Ian McGrail, who expressed disappointment with the Gibraltar Police Federation’s decision to “unilaterally” publish the internal staff survey without any consultation or input from senior management.
“The RGP respects the right of the GPF to conduct such exercises, and the RGP is proud of its record of transparency and openness,” he said in a statement.
The RGP said the findings of the report gave a “distorted, incomplete and wholly unbalanced” picture of the reality of the organisation.
According to the Federation the survey, which attracted an 87% completion rate, covers all aspects of officers’ working conditions and welfare within the RGP.
“We feel the 87% completion rate reinforces our concerns and further corroborates the highlighted issues that need to be dealt with,” the Federation stated.
Some 41% of the respondents expressed low morale, while 80% of officers who answered the survey perceived the morale of the organisation as poor, with 41% reporting poor working life balance.
Moreover, 54% of the workforce stated that they had contemplated leaving the RGP.
In another damning finding, 45% of the officers reported that they have been a victim of bullying or victimisation at work.
Some 86 officers have reported in the survey instances of bullying, 24 officers stating that they had been bullied just this past year. However none of these had been reported officially.
Additionally, 54% of respondents stated that they had witnessed bullying or victimisation at work, with 86% not reporting it and many commenting that they feared possible reprisals if they did, according to the Federation
Around 58% of respondents said they lacked confidence in the current grievance procedures.
Though 42% of the members are satisfied with the current five shift system, they are equally divided in the opinion that they should have a different shift pattern as many feel current manpower levels are not properly sustained, with rest days and change of hours constantly changed to meet operational demands.
Although 51% of the members are satisfied with their current salary, 52% are unsatisfied with their allowances.
Additionally, 83% of the members are unsatisfied with the current staffing levels in their shifts and departments highlighting health and safety issues with respect to low man power levels and continued higher operational demands.
Of those who answered the survey, 61% reported that they feel unsafe whilst carrying out operational duties, while 69% feel overworked and 47% are currently suffering from work related stress.
Another 55% of the members have reported that they have had instances of their rest days changed with 54% not been given the required 15 days’ notice.
67% of the members have reported that their working hours/shifts been changed with 65% not being consulted and 52% not been given enough notice.
54% of officers have reported that they have been unhappy with the management of refreshment breaks and facilities.
55% were satisfied with their personal safety equipment. 89% of officers are very unhappy with IT facilities and 68% unhappy with the maintenance of vehicles and vessels.
61% of officers were unsatisfied with the security of stations.
66% did not feel that their career opportunities were linked to their experience /qualifications and a large percentage did not feel that they were adequately managed with respect to personal assessments, mentoring/attachments, specialist training and retraining.
“The most valuable asset of our organisation are its officers and staff,” the Federation said.
“Officers need to have their proper refreshment breaks and unbroken rest days to be fresh, ready and able to cope with this demanding job.”
“Needless to say, a happy workforce will promote morale and will increase productivity.”
The Federation said it has requested that a joint working group be set up to tackle all these “concerning issues” as soon as possible.
It is the Federation’s intentions to continue with these surveys for a period of three years in order to asses and substantiate progression and to be able to identify any concerns that may arise in the future.
In its response to the points flagged by the Federation, the RGP said it has over the past five years been working in close cooperation with the Gibraltar Government across a whole range of issues to tackle long-standing grievances caused by increased policing challenges.
The RGP said these difficulties are made more acute by historical under-investment in the force, and the need to carry out adjustments necessary to address the RGP’s changing, and increasingly demanding, work streams.
“We are satisfied that the Gibraltar Government has taken note of our representations regarding the burdens we are facing due to limited resources being unremittingly stretched, and are pleased to report that there have been significant advances in this period.”
“The incumbent administration’s support for the RGP has been reflected in substantial investment in human, material resources and real estate, including assets for the maritime section, together with much needed cash injections into vital equipment and technology.”
Moreover, the RGP said it has seen an increase in 15 more sworn in police officers in the last seven years.
“The GPF has been regularly briefed about our meaningful discussions with the Gibraltar Government and the verifiable progress that has been achieved.”
“In view of this, it is regrettable that they should have unilaterally published the survey without discussing the findings with senior management and giving us an opportunity to establish clear guidelines of action to jointly address the concerns that may have been identified.”
“Although outstanding issues remain, and we look forward to facing them in a spirit of mutual trust with the GPF, it is unfair to undermine all the hard work that has been done to date by creating a negative impression.”
We have a cordial relationship with the GPF and hold regular meetings with them, to review outstanding issues of mutual interest in a constructive atmosphere.”
“The RGP force, its senior ranks and officers are committed to the delivery of excellent service to the public, and we call on the GPF to assist us in ensuring that we accomplish that critical objective in the most positive manner.”