When it comes to devising a justice policy for our small community, our overall aim is to make our community safer, increase access to justice and protect the vulnerable.
Access to Justice and Justice Commission
Establish a commission, with involvement from experts and from civil society, to examine the issues of parole, sentencing, rehabilitation and crime prevention holistically, and advising Parliament accordingly. We will invite that commission to look around the world for innovative measures and to consider whether they would suit our community.
Review legal aid and legal assistance rules in order to expand the level of cover provided, making them fairer and more accessible to those in need.
Implement a contributory conditional legal aid fund, bringing a new stream of funding into the system.
Carry out a consultation to review the current jury system and attempt to find solutions that will allow justice to be done fairly and impartially which, in a small community, is often difficult to achieve.
Increased safety of our community needs to come primarily from a complete overhaul of how our system deals with those convicted of crimes. Prisoners are members of our community, living in it prior to imprisonment and returning to it upon release. They are also often amongst the most socially disadvantaged in our community. Prison health is therefore an inseparable and integral component of public health. The purpose of a prison sentence must therefore be more than simply pressing “pause” on an offender's criminal activity. Punishment and deterrence are important, but so is reintegration of released prisoners into society. We will:
Provide rehabilitation and therapy for drug users. Substance dependence is a public health issue, and prisoners should be provided with rehabilitation to ensure that they are able to overcome their addictions that may be the primary contributing factor to their criminality.
Encourage prisoners to undertake educational or vocational courses during their sentences. This can be in the form of primary, secondary and/or vocational courses/workshops, as well as higher education correspondence courses. As well as learning transferable skills, prisoners will be required to work and volunteer in the community and will be assisted and supported in their search for employment upon release.
Address the mental health needs of offenders, providing assessment and support, which can decrease reoffending and help divert people with mental disorders away from prison into treatment.
We have a growing problem with young offenders and anti-social behaviour. Evidence shows a link between exposure to socially conflictive and impoverished environments at a young age, and engagement in criminal activity in later life. We will:
Provide affected families with extra support and individualised attention.
Employ a fast-track system in cases involving young offenders, with early assessment, intervention and engagement. Supported learning, skills training, alternative therapies and volunteering in the community will be provided as an alternative to automatic custody.
Decriminalisation of Cannabis Possession
We will decriminalise possession of small amounts of cannabis so that offenders will, initially, not receive a criminal record, but rather will be referred to the Drugs Rehabilitation Panel. The drugs would continue to be illegal and would be confiscated by Police but there would be no judicial or Police involvement in the subsequent process. The Drugs Rehabilitation Panel will be given power to decide whether to refer them to a rehabilitation programme or impose penalties.
Petty Crime & Minor Offences
Petty crime and minor offences are clogging up the court system and creating an unnecessary strain on resources. We will streamline the way petty crime and minor offences are dealt with, moving them away from the court system, and issuing fixed penalty notices by the police themselves. We will appoint a further stipendiary magistrate to deal with appeals against these decisions, as well as to assist with the workload of the Magistrate’s Court.
Victims of Domestic Abuse and Sexual Crime
Victims of domestic abuse and/or sexual crime often report that they feel unsupported by the system. We will:
Conduct a review of Domestic Abuse legislation, particularly with respect to the ability of the police to obtain interim orders in cases of domestic violence.
Consult on how to incorporate emotional abuse into legislation to protect victims, with perpetrators given a mandatory rehabilitation program to change learned behaviour.
Launch a public education campaign on what signs to look for and how to support victims of domestic abuse.
Adopt a comprehensive approach to support victims of domestic abuse and their children in order to address needs which may arise in relation to housing, finances and emotional/mental health.
Introduce a tailored version of a rape shield law to protect victims from derogatory language and shaming in courts, as well as from cross-examination about past sexual behaviour.
Ensure rape kits are available in all areas, and those who are in the direct line when victims come forward are trained in how to deal with these cases holistically, supportively and efficiently. Rape kits will be available in alternative locations and more doctors trained to know how to use them.
Protection of Children
Children continue to be vulnerable to sexual crime and exploitation. We will:
Invest to improve the capacity of the RGP Police to combat sexual crimes against children, including online sexual exploitation. The measures will help the RGP to improve its ability to discover, investigate, obstruct and prevent sex crimes against children, to identify victims and perpetrators of these crimes, and to improve international collaboration.
Devise a development project on the principle that all children who have been the victims of sexual abuse and/or physical violence have the right to an assessment and the right to support and rehabilitation according to need. The model will provide information to children and parents, a functioning care chain and the opportunity for children and parents to seek and obtain support and treatment when the need arises.
Introduce an educational policy so that children know their rights concerning bodily autonomy and ensure they understand if they are being abused.
Legislate to ensure that every sexual offender that travels in or out of Gibraltar will have to disclose their purpose and whereabouts to the RGP.
Ensure that any individual who works with children has to have a comprehensive CRB check that includes whether they are on the Sexual Offenders Register.
Victims and their families are not properly considered in relation to the parole process. We will:
Ensure the Parole Board is explicitly obliged to seek the views of victims of crime in respect of license conditions.
Impose a legal obligation of the Parole Board to advise victims of a crime of their right to make representations and facilitate this,
Create a mechanism by which, when a custodial sentence is handed down, the length of time after which the person will become eligible for release on license must be publicly stated.
Ensure that, at the conclusion of a Parole Hearing, the Parole Board produces a summary decision for the public, explaining the rationale for whether or not release on license has been approved.
Separation and divorce
Separation and divorce can often be adversarial and costly, both financially and emotionally. We will:
Introduce Family Tribunals, with the option of a Simplified Divorce Procedure for uncontested cases and the availability of support advocates.
Legislate in order to permit separating couples to divorce whenever they want to, without the need to place blame on either party or to wait for a specific period of time to elapse following separation.
Implement a mandatory, government sponsored mediation service if there are children involved, for family and matrimonial disputes. This would greatly assist separating couples in reducing the conflict and financial burden that almost inevitably accompanies the breakdown of a relationship, benefitting the parties and, crucially, the children in the relationship.
Make maintenance payments automatic from the moment of separation and calculated on a case-by-case basis, applying a standard scale of percentage of earnings in relation to the number of dependent children, taking into account any specific needs of those children. Maintenance payments will be taken from earnings if not paid voluntarily.
We will examine the viability of a government-sponsored centre for arbitration, focusing on the arbitration of commercial disputes. This would be an innovative business opportunity for Gibraltar.
Together Gibraltar values the work of essential services keeping us safe from harm. We will support these services and liaise with them to enhance their work-life balance and keep the community safe and peaceful. The feeling of being bullied and victimised is a common complaint within these services. We will revise internal policies and examine the culture to ensure those who are making us feel safe, also feel safe.
We will ensure female representation in all essential services and conduct a review of the conditions of service for all officers and uniformed bodies, making rights and working practices that are easy to read and accessible for all ensuring fairness and allowing employees to understand their conditions of service and expectations. A formal independent grievance and appeal system will be introduced so that employee rights can be protected, and everyone is treated fairly without prejudice.
Fire and Rescue
We will provide a new station with the latest facilities that is so desperately needed by our fire officers.
Together Gibraltar will work with the RGP to provide a motivated police force. Low morale in the serving police force has been reported as an issue with officers overworked and not getting sufficient rest days. We will aim to tackle this with the following measures:
We will look to remove certain duties away from police officers such as traffic direction, and reduction and simplification of the paperwork process.
Streamlining of petty crime and minor offences to be dealt with by moving them away from the court system and issuing fixed penalty notices freeing up police time and saving money.
A separate penalty will be created for assaulting a police officer to enable our officers to feel safe and protected. We will look into allowances for police officers that have not been increased since 1982.
The current police station is not easily accessible and not fit for purpose with those charged sometimes being assessed in the training wing. We will work with the individual units to assess their needs and provide a workable, sustainable and environmentally friendly police station. Community police stations will be integrated into estates to enable easy access for residents.
Together Gibraltar will work to ensure border control and customs run as smoothly as possible with measures passed immediately after Brexit to avoid a standstill. This will include:
Alternative solutions to current customs infrastructure.
Effective communication between departments, other uniformed bodies.
Engage businesses to ensure interests are addressed and there is sufficient preparation from day one.
Minimising of disruption is the number one priority although the customs entry point has not been refurbished in many years and this will be turned into an environmentally friendly and comfortable entry point that is easily accessible and provides a suitable workspace for officers. The port entry is not near customs base. A new base will be provided to ensure efficiency in the working environment. Working practice will be reviewed to ensure meritorious promotion for the most qualified.
Borders and Coastguard
Due to the uncertainties of Brexit, the Schengen management of our borders is even more important to Gibraltar. We commit to review the collective agreement to ensure equality in pay and terms and review issues such as the rummage allowance and Clause 29. We will invest in the latest counter fraudulent equipment and train officers to use and maintain this equipment. Ensure that all assets are usable and able to be fixed locally and within a short amount of time.
Locations that are hard to access and are not up to standard such as Eastgate will be refurbished and made into safe and comfortable working environments. We will ensure rest and recuperation facilities are made available in the airport. There will be investment in infrastructure to ensure officers are working in comfortable environments.
Currently when a boat comes into Gibraltar it is registered by a civilian agency and they also handle and scrutinise travel documentation. This brings up dangerous security and data protection issues.
We will provide a mobile unit for officers so they can register and scrutinise travel documents as they have to do in all other entry points. The current vehicle fleet is in disrepair, and we will ensure that the vehicles used for official duties are environmentally friendly and fit for purpose and assess overtime rate, so it is consistent throughout the essential services.