It is a sad day when a retired senior police officer (Superintendent (Rtd) Leo Olivero) writes "... while there may be a somewhat clear cut division between the policy versus the operational control of the police by the Government, in rhetoric, ..., the reality is that things are quite different... there is a growing perception amongst many that there appears to be, in certain high profile policing activities, much more than a smidgeon of political interest or involvement ... " This was said by him in an article in Panorama newspaper (08-01-2010) in which he also refers to the recent incident involving 4 Guardia Civiles. An incident about which this blogger has written much already.
The New People (07-01-2010, Montis Insignia Calpe) expressed concerns in these terms "... the Head of the Royal Gibraltar Police who ... took it upon himself to "decide" that the "Guardia Civil Officers" - who invaded Gibraltarian Territory and Waters - should not be prosecuted, performed a "function" which is not vested in the office that he holds - but in that which is held by the Attorney General of Gibraltar! ... he must have been "instructed" to act as he did - and the only "one" who has "authority" to issue such "instruction" (or has he?) is Peter Richard Caruana ... ".
One basic safeguards that protects democracy from evolving into absolute rule is the existence of a truly independent police force and prosecuting authority. The 2006 Constitution has provisions by which the RGP is within the domain of the Governor subject to the Police Authority and prosecution decisions are only to be made by Her Majesty's Attorney General for Gibraltar. The sequence of events that surrounded the recent incident referred to earlier indicates that this division of power has not worked in practice.
If the fears expressed by a senior retired RGP officer, by the New People and by this blogger are correct (and they have not been denied in any credible manner), a major failing in the practice of actual and existing constitutional safeguards will have occurred. What assurance is there against a recurrence of such an event in what could be more malicious circumstances? At present: none; surely this calls for further enquiry and a public reassurance?
What might happen in other areas in which no constitutional safeguards exist is of concern, and perhaps some awe.