The Royal Gibraltar Police’s longest serving female officer – and Sergeant since 2009 – with a twenty-year career in several key roles, newly promoted Inspector Deborah Jones is gearing up for exciting challenges ahead.
“I studied hard for my Inspector exam and I passed it the first time,” she says. “There is an application pack to fill, in which I put lots of care and attention: I spent almost a day in elaborating on my reasons for applying and to show and demonstrate why I felt I was the right person for the job.”
She says she applied for Inspector because she felt ready, and at the right point in her career, after years working between Operations and Crime Divisions in various roles including preventing and tackling domestic and sexual abuse.
“The application process is quite stressful, but that is part of the assessment, to gauge how candidates deal with functioning under pressure. One of my weaknesses is being interviewed,” she admits candidly during our interview (which she aced, by the way!), “so I had to work on that, and express in words, as much as in actions, that I indeed get the job done – and you can trust me to get the job done.”
I stuck flashcards for my police exams to the walls.
With a positive forward-looking open-minded attitude, Debbie encourages everyone, police officers and otherwise, male or female, to snatch any opportunity when it comes along and not to hesitate in being the first one to go for it. She speaks highly of the Women in Policing Forum that supports female officers in progressing their careers and expanding their skills both vertically, if they want to rise through the ranks, and horizontally, should they opt instead for serving in various departments.
One of the first four female officers to train and qualify for firearm carrying – thankfully, she’s never had to demonstrate this skill in the field! – Debbie ‘packs heat’ in her determinate, fiercely independent personality, ‘fair and firm’, as described by colleagues, a leader and not a boss, as she likes to portray herself, a stickler for discipline and commitment.
A desire to help others is what first pushed Debbie to join the RGP in 2001, at the age of eighteen, just a few years after men and women were bestowed equal opportunities within it. “As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian, as I loved animals, and wanted to help them, but I decided I could help people as well.”
Debbie’s upbringing, so different from the average Gibraltarian teenager, taught her to be self-responsible, self-reliable, self-sufficient, and once she stood firmly her ground, she was mature beyond her years to seek justice on behalf of children, teenagers and women less fortunate than her.
She says: “I moved to Gib from Wales with my mother at the age of fifteen. She shortly moved back. I decided to stay. She let me, as long as I proved I could manage myself for three months. And so I did. I lived in a studio flat and did some waitressing on the side to pay my bills while completing my studies.” They were intense months of budgeting: “To save on electricity bills, I stuck flashcards for my police exams to the walls and reviewed them by candlelight.”
This is what makes me want to know how their mind ticks.
She had friends, of course, but she prides herself of having made it on her own. Now, she can count on her brother living in Jimena and a network of in-laws: “My husband is Bolivian, and has a large family in Spain. He’s supportive of what I do, as he knows well that the police officer in me comes first, and if I am called in for an emergency, I must drop everything at home and respond.”
Debbie is a religious person who in her prayers asks for strength, and who believes in forgiveness. Yet: “In my role, and with the cases I deal with, that isn’t always easy or possible, and I know that when someone has committed a crime, they must be punished, and justice served to their victims.” Justice, not revenge – so Debbie always explores the reasons why someone did what they did: “When I face an abuser, I am comforted by the notion that if I have them sitting in front of me, it means they can no longer hurt the victims I’m protecting, that I’m stopping what happened in the past from happening again. This is what makes me want to know how their mind ticks, what their motivations are, and if they fully understand the scope and consequences of their actions.” Learning their reasons doesn’t change the investigator’s stance towards them or their crimes, but makes her understand how to move forward.
And how does Inspector Jones wind down from her not-so-typical day at the office? Well, her love for animals was only put on the backburner, as now she lives with a horse, Curro, seven dogs and four lovebirds in the countryside, where she energises with therapeutic track runs and horseback rides.