Friday, 1 April 2011

Public confidence in Policing down

Leo Olivero

GPA gives unbalanced views of public survey result!

It would appear the new chairman of the Gibraltar police authority (GPA)

Richard Garcia may have his work cut out to recapture the public's confidence in local policing, all this so soon after taking office as the new chair of the GPA.

Latest figures collated in the yearly GPA public consultation survey and released by the Gibraltar police authority just a few days ago, clearly gives an unimpressive and a generally downbeat perception of the police service as perceived by a cross section of the general public.

The purpose of the survey is to solicit (at random) input from individuals (citizens) including those who may have had contact with the royal Gibraltar police, or who have issues/concerns regarding public safety in Gibraltar. The survey in fact also provides an opportunity for respondents to express their personal opinion as to whether the police are effectively providing an all round service in conjunction with the policing priorities.

The GPA presented the result of the survey to the public in a graph like format; it was accompanied with a skimpy five paragraph forward, but instead of highlighting those important areas of the survey which any police authority would wanted to draw attention too, the GPA instead highlighted other areas which really the public would have had little interest in!

The GPA instead, and in a blatant fashion pointed out just two results. One - that highlighted that over 50% of respondents are satisfied and have confidence in the overall service of the RGP and two - that 70% of respondents agree with all the priorities set out in the policing plan.

Just what is the GPA playing at; at this stage it is not known if the new chairman had a hand in releasing this report, but if he did, then public confidence in local policing and the GPA's participation of it, will undoubtedly, and in the eye's of the public continue to fall even further, than the 40% of the public who said 'that they do not have confidence in the police' a negative figure that is up 5% from the previous year.

Why the GPA is again attempting to portray a false sense of everything is well, this from a result of a public survey, the analysis of which comes across negatively from a police perspective, and one that will require close scrutiny in order to get matters right!

This kind of public statement from the GPA in an official publication gives a totally unbalanced view to the public concerning one the authorities most important functions as independent assesses of policing in Gibraltar. None of this really does the GPA's reputation any good, particularly as an independent body who is there to inform the public about policing matters 'as it is and nothing more'

The whole matter could be seen as a lack of respect and an insult to the intelligence of the public, particularly those who bothered to take part in the survey and actually read it for themselves!

If this is the nature of the impartiality we can expect from the GPA under the stewardship of its new chairman, than policing in Gibraltar and most importantly public confidence in the police service will continue to dwindle.

Policing in Gibraltar is the last public service that can do without any level of spin!

Survey result

Personal opinions by the public on specific questions:

Q.1. Are you satisfied with the overall services of the police

Yes 53%

No 42%

No Down 4%

Q. 2. Do believe service offered by has improved this last year

Yes 43%

No 47%

Down 8%

Q. 3. Are you satisfied with the police enforce traffic laws

Yes 33%

No 61%

Down 1%

Q.4. Do you have confidence in the police

Yes 53%

No 40%

Down 4%

Respondent's general opinion on specific questions

Q.1 do you believe the public have confidence in the police

Yes 34%

No 32%

Down 3%

Q.2. Do you believe public confidence in the police has

In last 12 months

Yes 24%

No 34% 

Down 6%

Q.3. Do you believe the police have a good relationship with the public

Yes 46%

No 29%

Down 3%

Q.4 do you believe the relationship the police have

With the public has improved in last 12 months

Yes 27%

No 29%

Down 4%

All the 'yes positives' compared to last year are down in each question posed; these were important and specific questions. Although percentages may appear to have gone down in small amounts, they are important for a place the size of Gibraltar. And if only 53% of the public have confidence in the police service, this must be a concern?

The RPG has a lot of work on its hands to get these figures up!

Even though the GPA pointed out that 53% of respondents are satisfied with the overall performance of the police as stated by the GPA, 42% were not, why was this not mentioned as well? It is also true that 70% of respondents agree with the policing priorities, but these are the same public concerns year in and year out.

There was certainly another perspective to the survey that was not told by the GPA, one which again they failed to inform the public about, or did they expect every member of the community to work out for themselves what these results all meant. The GPA should have prepared a balanced summary and presented this, something they failed to do!

The police service is an important element of democracy; in this sense it is vital that the police should constantly strive to improve its relationship with all in the community.

The role of the police authority as the independent body that oversees policing should is critical in providing oversight and scrutiny of every aspect of policing. The authority should also be the independent conduit between the public expectations of their police service and what the police service themselves are able to deliver!

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