Police Authority Breaks its own Laws?

By Leo Olivero
The Gibraltar Police Authority (GPA) should play a vital role in shaping not only the future vision of the force, but of establishing policing priorities, agreeing objectives and monitoring progress against these priorities, also of setting of targets, which is central to this process and a 'requirement in law' and importantly communicating all this to the public.

However the G PA has decided to completely ignore this, and have set about disrupting this important 'performance management framework' by deciding not to set performance targets in the current Policing Plan.

This issue if readers recall, was raised by me in PANORAMA when the Gibraltar Police Authority issued the Policing Plan which did not include agreed performance targets, a decision that 'Clearly Contravenes Constitutionally Linked Legislation' that governs the work and function of the GPA itself!

Jointly preparing the police plan with the RGP and later agreeing performance targets is one of the major functions of the authority -- according to the Laws of Gibraltar. Just as important is for the GPA to ensure that the police performs and effectively addresses those issues raised as public concerns which are later converted into policing priorities.

But all this, appears not to be the case!! The Gibraltar Police Authority have decided not to set targets, and according to the GPA Chairman who in a recent interview said "we have chosen not to set defined percentage targets for the RGP to achieve in respect of every aim or objective or measure, as many of these are not' mathematically quantifiable' Additionally this risks leading us to adopt the syndrome of 'acceptable crime levels'. Our directive therefore to the RGP and the overall target in our policing plan is simply to reduce crime and maintain Gibraltar as a safe and secure place"

This was a Pathetic Statement from the GPA and also an insult to the Public's Intelligence!!

I've have never heard so Much Rubbish! Has GPA suddenly discovered that crime in Gibraltar is not 'mathematically quantifiable' how did they work that one out? And yet for the past 15 years or so, quantifying police yearly activity, statistically and numerically, on all policing priorities and in every other aspect of their work has never been a problem, neither here in Gibraltar, or similarly in the United Kingdom.

What is the GPA telling the RGP to do now? 'To go out and do its best' and to ignore and move away from a structured management performance system that is there to evaluate performance, by comparing and setting figures with corresponding years. Is this the way forward, or is the GPA intending to take local policing backwards in time!!

In fact in the United Kingdom in November 2008, the British Government announced that Police Authorities would be jointly inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Audit Commission across the full range of their activities for the first time.

These independent Inspection organisations judge how well police authorities are fulfilling their role of ensuring that the public has an efficient and effective local police force - using these four key inspection themes:

setting the strategic direction and priorities of the police force

scrutinising the performance of the police force including target setting

ensuring results through community engagement and partnerships

ensuring value for money and productivity

Subsequently each UK police authority receives an inspection report, which is also published and made available to the public. Reports identify the police authority's strengths and areas of innovation to be shared with other police authorities.

Reports also identify areas for improvement that the inspectors expect police authorities to act upon in order to improve their performance for the public.

How can the Police Authority in Gibraltar fulfill its role to the local public, if the Authority itself goes about breaking the law and cutting corners by making life easier for itself and the police? The RGP must also know that it is wrong and there are dangers in not setting performance targets, something the Police have been doing for many years before the Police Authority was ever created!

The subject of Performance Scrutiny, in the sense of not setting performance targets, may not be an important issue for the Police Authority. But Certainly the 2006 Police Act is definitely of the opposite view when it comes to the Setting of Targets, the act says 'The Police Authority 'Shall Set Targets' to support level objectives and priorities of that policing year' the word 'shall' is not an option, it has to be done.