If they now admit they are not working well, why don't they inform the public what is wrong with them?
After over three years the Gibraltar Police Authority (GPA) has approached Government to have the amount of GPA members enlarged from the present seven by a further three persons, this would increase the size of the police authority to a new total of ten members.
Justice Minister Daniel Feetham, has said to others, but not to us, that the ‘system would work better’ with more members and would also give the authority more flexibility.
However he was not clear, he did not say ‘what GPA system would work better with more people, and in what areas and why? There were no explanations either on how the system or the GPA had actually worked or discharged its role up until now.
In fact, does anyone know how the Police Authority has functioned?!
There have been many comments and criticism of the ineffective manner the GPA has gone about its business. This newspaper has also carried a few articles concerning the way the GPA has conducted its affairs. There has also been a number of adverse letters in the press.
Also, and very importantly the ‘Independency of the Police Authority’ itself is another issue that is frequently questioned in many quarters!
Although what is oddly strange and rather unethical is the manner the GPA has apparently undergone its own evaluation of itself. After three years the authority has realised that they are not as effective as they would like, or as what many people think, although decided to suggest to the Government they could improve with more people.
After what appears to be an in-house inspection and evaluation of themselves, the GPA have come up with their own solution to the issue, not a complex one, quite simple, they want more members, which they think will remedy and improve the situation and themselves.
But has anybody bothered to look into the actual work of the GPA so far, it is three years since they were created as a public body to oversee policing in Gibraltar.
How have they performed in this very important public and independent role is not known to those people they are accountable too, the general public themselves!
Who has evaluated the work of the GPA? And who has advised? And who really knows that by increasing the GPA complement as is being suggested, the authority will not only improve the system but the police service and the all round effectiveness of this body?
Many questions which are important and unanswered!
This is in total contrast to the United Kingdom, where independent bodies like the Audit Commission and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) routinely inspect the work of all UK’s 43 policing authorities, they later make a report which is made public for all to view and comment.
This is not exactly the same as the strange situation we have in Gibraltar, where no-one truly knows the effectiveness so far of the GPA, and, if an increase in membership would improve the authority’s role. Could it be that the system hasn’t worked for some other reason not identified when the GPA apparently carried out an in-house audit of themselves!
Does anyone know if the GPA is really holding the RGP to account, this is one of their principal roles. In fact the UK’s independent inspection teams probe deeply into the effectiveness of police authorities in Great Britain. They use an inspection system which includes looking into performance management, leadership and scrutiny role, how authorities manage resources and people and how they work in collaboration with communities and partners to build capacity and ensure the delivery of priority services, outcomes and improvements that are important to local people.
But importantly the over-arching duties of the police authority is to secure an efficient and effective police service and to hold the Commissioner of Police to account for the exercise of his functions.
11It***Does anyone know if in the three years of the GPA’s existence it has achieved any of these important and vital functions?
The GPA in fact failed to inform the public they were having difficulty with the system, in that, they have not been as effective as they would have wished. Instead they approached the Government to seek more man-power to their ranks, this in an effort, one presume, to improve alleged short-comings to the system or themselves, no one really knows, particularly the public.
What standards or guidelines were set for the GPA to carry out its role and also for anyone to measure or inspect them against, this is another dubious area?
No-one has independently monitored the work of the authority; they appear to have done this themselves, which doesn’t really count as independent does it?
And just how many members does the Police Authority actually require in such a very small policing area like Gibraltar, has anyone outside the present set-up really determined this important point...
It appears that the GPA appraises and evaluates its own work and performance, and then makes its own recommendations in an attempt to improve itself and the system.
Is it small wonder that so much cynicism and doubt surrounds this important public body – which should be independent - when so many questions remain unanswered!