History of the Royal Gibraltar Police

Gibraltar during the 18th Century was a Military Garrison where the British Governor ruled supreme with no elected civilian government. The inhabitants of the "Town and Garrison of Gibraltar" were permitted to run their affairs in their own way and public order was maintained by the Military Authorities, who maintained sentries and night patrols under the command of the Town Major. 

In 1740, English Law was introduced in Gibraltar and in 1753 the first Justices of the Peace were appointed. Prior to this date, punishment of offenders was dealt with by the Governor, and this usually meant expulsion from the Garrison. 

During this period the Military Authorities were experiencing great difficulties with Army deserters going into the Kingdom of Spain and thus a group of inhabitants were recruited to act as Frontier Guards. This group became known as the Genoese Guard and in time came to serve as a rudimentary Police Force when they were called upon to support the Military Authorities when dealing with civilians. Sergeants were appointed within the Genoese Guard and their titles "Jews Sergeant" and "Spanish Sergeant" reflected their role within the sectors of the community. The Genoese Guard were subsequently disbanded sometime after the Seven Year War, but the "Spanish" and "Jews" Sergeant continued to function.


In 1811, the distinction between "Spanish" and "Jews" Sergeant was dispensed with. The resultant increase in population led to eight Town Sergeants being appointed. This in itself was not sufficient to deal with the inhabitants and additional members were recruited.

The "TURNKEY", usually a merchant, was responsible for ensuring that the Garrison was secure, and eventually assumed the supervision of the Civil Prison.

The "INSPECTOR OF STRANGERS" was responsible for regulating all visitors to the Garrison during the Napoleonic Wars, and The "INSPECTOR OF MARKETS" was responsible for the supervision of supplies. 

In 1830 the "Town and Garrison of Gibraltar" was changed to "Colony of Gibraltar" and its administration passed from the War Office to the relatively new Colonial Office. On the 21st June 1830, a Proclamation was issued which in effect removed the policing of the Town from the Town Major and the military authorities and was now the domain of a civilian. This proclamation, appointed Major James ROWAN to the office of Civil Police Magistrate for the Town and Territory of Gibraltar and Mr Henry MORGAN was appointed Director of the Police and Supervisor of Market.

 Thus on the 25th June 1830, the Gibraltar Police became operational, making it the oldest Police force in the Commonwealth, and second oldest British Police force in the world. The Metropolitan Police had been formed some nine months earlier by Sir Robert PEEL, and the Gibraltar Police was modelled along the same lines. Metropolitan Officers were seconded to Gibraltar to assist in its formation.

The first Chief of Police Henry MORGAN, remained in the post from 1830 until 1859 and under his leadership the Gibraltar Police achieved a very high standard.

Patrols were maintained jointly with the military authorities and all civilians detained would pass to the Police Magistrate to be dealt with. In 1871, the Gibraltar Police assumed a more dominant role over the military patrols who were now required to leave their weapons in the Guard Room when undertaking such patrols.

Throughout the years the Gibraltar Police continued in their endeavours to police the territory and gradually their numbers increased.

In 1930, the Gibraltar Police celebrated it's Centenary with the whole force under the command of Chief of Police GULLOCH parading at Casemates Square on the 1st August that year. A banquet was held that same evening where all the force was in attendance, and the duty to police Gibraltar was left in the hands of the Rover Scouts who were sworn in as Special Constables for the particular evening.

In 1937 William GULLOCH retired as Chief of Police and was succeeded by Dudley S GOWING, who was the first to bear the title of Commissioner of Police.

The opening of the Frontier in 1985 brought additional responsibilities to the force, as numbers of visitors to Gibraltar increased very considerably. Over the years the Police have evolved and developed in order to meet present day requirements and it has become necessary to establish specialist departments in order to fight crime and keep pace with all other aspects of police work in the most efficient manner possible. Over its history, the Gibraltar Police have tackled many a difficult situations and have always been seen to uphold the essence of British justice.

On the 12th June 1992, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II graciously conferred the prefix "ROYAL" to the Gibraltar Police.

On the 25th June 2005, the Royal Gibraltar Police celebrated its 175th Anniversary, a significant milestone in their history. A parade involving a large number of officers marched from Casemates to Main Street to the Piazza where a salute was taken by His Worship the Mayor.

On the 20th July 2006, the Gibraltar Police Authority officially came into operation when the Police Act 2006 was published. The Gibraltar Police Authority is an independent body that is responsible for securing that the Royal Gibraltar Police operates as efficiently and effectively as possible within available resources; providing information on police issues to the community; operating and supervising a procedure for handling complaints against police officers; and generally for ensuring high standards of policing in Gibraltar.

On the 12th August 2008, the Royal Gibraltar Police was acknowledged as an Investor in People. This is a prestigious achievement and RGP are the first public service organisation in Gibraltar to attain it.

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