GPF Survey Points To Low Morale And Bullying Concerns Among RGP Officers

The Gibraltar Police Federation (GPF) has published the results of a survey of RGP officers conducted last year. Among its many results, the survey found that the 44% of respondents expressed low or very low morale, whilst 72% of officers perceived the morale of the organisation as “low or very low.” Over half (51%) said they had contemplated leaving the RGP in the last year and 46% of the officers have reported that they had been a “victim of bullying/victimisation at work.” However, the federation also notes a more positive attitude from higher management adding that its suggestions or advice “are now being taken on board and we are grateful to management for this.”

In August 2018, the GPF carried out its first online survey to give members a voice on what issues affected them. The results were subsequently shared with the media for everyone to see. Several issues were highlighted.

The Board agreed then that they would carry out an annual survey for a period of three years to assess whether there had been any improvements in the issues raised by members.

The GPF recently asked its members to complete our third online Staff Survey, which has been conducted from the 13th November to the 11th December 2020.

The survey covers many aspects of members working conditions as well as certain aspects of welfare issues and procedures in the RGP.

The GPF says the survey has been conducted “completely confidentially by an independent marketing agency.”

A summary of its key findings was published today by the GPF:

“The completion rate of 83% has been lower than the previous year, which stood at 90% year although the survey has been open for less time. Nevertheless, we feel that the response has once again been extremely positive and this year’s survey results once again highlight the issues that officers feel need to be addressed. 

“We have held onto the survey results since before Christmas. It would have been insensitive and irresponsible for us to have released these results with everything that was happening at the time.

“The results below are a summary of the survey results, which was completed by 183 out of our 220 members.  These results show that:

“44% of the respondents expressed low or very low morale, whilst 72% of officers perceived the morale of the organisation as low or very low.

“51% of the workforce have stated that they have contemplated in leaving the RGP in the last twelve months.

“46% of the officers have reported that they have been a victim of bullying/victimisation at work.

“50% of these officers state that have been bullied within the last year.

“The 46% of respondents who state they have been bullied represents a total of 85 officers. 42 respondents state that they had been bullied just this past year. 93% of officers state that they have been bullied by either middle or senior management.

“59% have stated that they have witnessed bullying / victimisation at work with 91% not reporting it, many commenting fearing possible repercussions and no faith in a positive outcome.

“111 officers reported having witnessed bullying with 75 respondents stating that they had witnessed the bullying within the last twelve months.

“16% of officers are confident of reporting matters through the grievance procedure process.

“31% of Response Team officers were satisfied with the current 5-shift system. 66% think the RGP should operate a different Response Team pattern (12-hour shift system 4 on 4 off) as many feel current manpower levels are not properly sustained with rest days and change of hours constantly changed to meet operational demands.  

“Although 61% of the members are satisfied or very satisfied with their current salary, 72% are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with their allowances. 

“78% of the members are unsatisfied with the current staffing levels in their shifts and departments highlighting health and safety issues with respect to low manpower levels and continued higher operational demands. 

“10% of officers reported that they feel safe whilst carrying out operational duties. 

“75% feel overworked, with 50% of responder’s stating they are currently suffering from work related stress. 20% were satisfied with the level of aftercare provided to officers by the organisation after an incident.

“49% of officers are not satisfied with the level of counselling offered by the organisation.

“71% of the members have reported that they have had instances of their rest days changed with 58% not been given the required 15 days’ notice.

“80% of the members have reported that their working hours/shifts been changed 19% of which had had their duties changed more than 11 times over the past year.

“16% of officers have reported that they are satisfied with the management of refreshment breaks and facilities.

“50% were satisfied with their personal safety equipment. 91% of officers are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with IT facilities.

“6% of officers are satisfied with the security at police buildings.

“68% did not feel that their promotion prospects 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, internal transfers, specialist training and retraining.’

A GPF spokesperson commented:

“We thank HMGoG for the extra vacancies that have been created and which will see new officers who are currently undergoing their training period and who will be shortly be deployed to front line policing.

“The most valuable asset of our organisation are its officers and staff. Employee satisfaction stems for working for an organization that values employees’ talents, qualifications and expertise. Officers need to feel valued and treated with respect. They need to have their proper refreshment breaks and unbroken rest days to be fresh, ready and able to deal with the strenuous demands that come with the job.

“Needless to say, a happy workforce will promote morale and will increase productivity.

“The results of this year’s survey is slightly more positive than the two previous years that we have conducted our staff survey. The survey results have been shared with management and the Federation will be again approaching them with a view of working together and improving the working conditions and procedures within the organisation.

“It is now approximately eight months since the retirement of Mr McGrail as Commissioner of Police, Mr Ullger having taken over from him as Commissioner back in June.

“The Gibraltar Police Federation has welcomed the more social approach Mr Ullger has brought with him, always making time for any officer who may have a question and more importantly treating all officers with the dignity and respect that they deserve. His approach has been embraced by our members who now see some light at the end of the tunnel.

“It will be very difficult, and it will take considerable time for the ‘blame culture’, which has existed within the organisation to be wiped out overnight. However the stance from our most senior managers, is now one of learning through mistakes, and although officers are still held accountable, they should not be paralysed or in fear of making genuine mistakes.

“Both our 2018, and 2019 GPF staff survey highlighted severe morale issues within the RGP, due to several factors, but one of concern was the management or leadership style of our senior managers.

“Reports of bullying echoed in both surveys were brushed aside, and the survey itself classified as raw data, as if the officers’ concerns were insignificant. Even though the survey data reflected many instances of bullying we never had an admission of this, let alone deal with the problem.

“We are extremely pleased that Senior management have allowed us to team up with Dignity at Work, with presentations to be delivered in the coming weeks, to all officers of all ranks inclusive of our Commissioner.

“The RGP and the Federation have worked hard to put together a Bullying at Work Policy, acceptable to both sides and have revamped the existing Grievance Procedure. The Federation have only recently been allowed to attend training days and deliver presentations to officers.

“None of these documents are perfect, and we do not expect this to be the case. We must highlight though, that many of the recommendations put forward to Senior management were implemented in the Bullying at Work and Grievance Policy/ Procedure.

“It has taken a long time for the Gibraltar Police Federation to be accepted within the higher echelons of the RGP for what it represents, and to be treated fairly.

“We only have to look back at the beginning of 2019 when six disciplinary notices were issued to the Chairman and the Secretary of the GPF.

“The GPF looks after the welfare and efficiency of its members. We have always been willing to work alongside Command in order to improve any aspect that could better officers working conditions of our members. Our suggestions or advice are now being taken on board and we are grateful to management for this.

“Even before the survey results were published, we had an assurance from the Commissioner of Police that any issues highlighted in this year’s survey would be addressed immediately, a far cry from the response that we had received in relation to our previous surveys.

“This survey is now the third survey that we have conducted in as many years. We feel that it is important to gauge how our members feel and consider this is a suitable platform for officers to express their feelings on issues relating to their employment.

“We look forward to addressing all issues raised by our members with senior management.”

About the GPF

The Gibraltar Police Association was established in 1961. Its Regulations were drawn under Section 52 of the Police Act. 

The main objectives of the Association were to enable police officers, under the rank of Superintendent, to consider and bring to the notice of the Commissioner of Police, the Gibraltar Police Authority or the Government matters affecting the welfare, (health and safety) and efficiency of the Force. 

On the 15th June 2018, Parliament unanimously approved the legislation and the Gibraltar Police Federation was enacted in law as an independent body.