"Dear fellow Gibraltarians, It is with a heavy heart that I write to you as Gibraltar battens down the hatches in this global pandemic that is sweeping through the continent ravaging the entire planet.

The Royal Gibraltar Police is a frontline, essential service and in keeping with our mission of service and upholding the law to keep the community safe, we wish to issue an appeal to the general public to abide by public health advice, to stay indoors unless you have to go out to buy food or medicine, and to keep social distancing at all times.

The Gibraltar Government has passed new emergency regulations which as from midnight tonight, gives police officers extra powers to intervene when these restrictions of movement are not being respected by individual citizens. The last thing I want, the last thing that all front line police officers carrying out their duties to keep the community safe want, is to have any sort of confrontation with members of the public. We are, collectively as an organisation and individually in our private lives, an integral part of this community, and we have its best interests at heart at all times.

Our overriding concern is to protect you and your families and to keep you safe at all times. We want citizens to understand that all the measures that are being introduced by the authorities are for the benefit of the elderly population and now with the extended social lockdown, to protect the entire community from the effects of this dangerous virus.

As Gibraltar at large knows, our policing style is one which incorporates and blends community values and keeps them at the forefront of our law enforcement role. In the normal course of events we are a non-confrontational force, and do not apply heavy handedness unless we absolutely have to. However, let no one doubt that in the current public health emergency, we will act robustly against any person who is seen to be deliberately flouting the social lockdown that comes into effect at midnight.

I would also like to advise the public to refrain from venting their frustration at police officers and other essential workers carrying out their crucial work in the front line battle against the virus. We understand that these are extremely abnormal and difficult times for everyone in the community but I trust that common sense will prevail and that our interventions will be reduced to a minimum.

Likewise I call on you not to abuse the exemptions provided in the emergency regulations to go out shopping, exercise and walking the dog. If you must exercise, do it on your own, if you go out to shop return home as quickly as possible, and if you must walk the dog, do so near your house and return as quickly as possible. Follow public health advice at all times, and remain calm. There is no need for panic buying as food supply chains are unaffected, and continue to operate as normal. There is no suggestion that this will change.

These are challenging times affecting Europe and the world, a global pandemic which has not spared us from its pernicious effects. Our policing demands have multiplied and our capacity to respond to them is under strain. You can do your bit to help by following this advice and voluntarily obeying the emergency restrictions.

Uphold solid family values and do not let the frustration of the situation get the better of you within the household by behaving out of character, behaving like you would not ordinarily do so, with your loved ones. Be advised too, that we take a dim view of domestic violence and will continue to respond to it forcefully.

I am extremely proud of the RGP and I am confident that we will step up to the plate to fulfil our sense of duty honourably and efficiently. I would also like to reassure you that we are out there to protect and safeguard the best interest of the community at all times. This is after all our prime aim.

I would like to conclude by reiterating my heartfelt entreaty to the community’s positive spirit, the best examples of which are already manifesting themselves in balconies, on social media, and in the solidarity that flows in all directions during these testing times. Use these weeks and perhaps months of confinement to cement good neighbourly relations through virtual means and bond with friends and family through the technology that we have at our disposal.

Please engage with us further through the RGP website email on www.police.gi, or through the phone on 200 72500. Keep safe and stay positive. Watch out for further announcements from front line officers in the days to come."