The wives, husbands and partners of Gibraltar Defence Police officers gathered outside No.6 Convent Place yesterday to highlight concerns over the “toxic” style of leadership within the force.
More than 100 people – including young children who held signs reading “Stop bullying my daddy” – participated in the action, which saw the Ministry of Defence told ‘Enough is enough’.
In a statement which was read out to those present, demonstrators said: “Enough of our partners falling ill, enough of our partners not wanting to attend work and enough of our partners having to stay silent.”
“Many would prefer to keep their dirty washing in-house, but in our experience this has only empowered those who would perpetuate the toxicity.”
Setting out their concerns the group highlighted what it described as an “autocratic style of management” within the GDP, which it said had resulted in “stresses beyond those acceptable in any job”.
The group said it fully understood that the MoD had tried to draw a line under events and that it is trying to move the situation forward.
Members said they were grateful that the Commander British Forces, Commodore Tim Henry, was addressing specific issues relating to the organisation.
An independent review in 2017 revealed that the levels of grievances were exceptional for an organisation the size of the GDP and identified “profound leadership problems”, the demonstrators said.
“We acknowledge the good work done by UK MDP officers to analyse and understand the situation, and the advice they have provided and continue to provide,” they said.
“We are particularly grateful to the experienced UK MDP officers seconded to the GDP, who have clearly shown that professional, knowledgeable and emphatic leadership is possible.”
But the demonstrators said they remained “angry” and feared that change would never arrive.
Nonetheless, the group insisted that no one had the right or the authority to even suggest that it should be silenced.
“We are not little women or men who will be told to hush and scuttle off back to our homes,” they said.
“We are acting independently, we are not controlled by the GDP Federation. We are not controlled by our partners we will continue to express our anger and concerns as we see fit, always in a dignified manner.”
A small group of the demonstrators were received by both the Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
Speaking to the Chronicle following their hour-long meeting with Lt Gen Davis, Louise Bateson said: “He was very supportive in all of the matters that we brought up and he was very happy to listen to everything that we had to say which was very lovely.”
“He is just as concerned as we are with a lot of the matters we brought up and he has given us some advice on things we should look to do in the future and he will be seeing us again later on this year.”
Ms Bateson explained that key among the aspects discussed were leadership and how complaints are put across.
Shortly after the demonstration started Mr Picardo met with the demonstrators who handed him a letter. He met with them again inside No.6 following their meeting with the Governor.
The MoD has stated in the past that it takes all complaints of harassment and bullying at work very seriously and investigates them accordingly.