During public meetings in Grand Cayman’s two most populous districts last week, Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan gave his officers a collective pat on the back for their part in a major crime reduction during 2006.
However, Mr. Kernohan also cautioned residents of George Town and West Bay that police may not be able to duplicate that reduction again in 2007.
Serious crime in the Cayman Islands dropped by about 26 per cent overall from 2005 to 2006. The first three months of this year saw a further reduction of 14 per cent in serious crimes, which include; murder, burglaries, major assaults, robberies, attempted murders and attempted rapes.
‘We are seeing these…trends continuing into 2007,’ Mr. Kernohan said. ‘But to get figures like minus 30 per cent, minus 26 per cent, was going to be a hard act to follow.’
‘It doesn’t mean we’re not trying, but….what I’m saying is that to get similar reductions in the second year against a year that’s already been done very well is a big task for some of the officers.’
For instance, burglary is by far the most frequently reported serious crime in Cayman. In 2006, the number of burglaries that occurred dropped 32 per cent when compared to 2005. Mr. Kernohan said he’d be surprised if that happened again this year.
‘Throughout my nearly 28 years policing, I have never seen…forces that have reduced burglaries by 32 percent,’ he said.
The RCIPS also reported a five per cent drop last year in less serious crimes, often called volume crimes; offences like theft, damage to property, minor assaults and threatening violence.
It is those crimes the police service considers less serious that dominated much of the discussion in the two community meetings.
Some areas of reported volume crimes, including property damage, threats of violence and minor assaults have increased during the first months of 2007. But police officials aren’t sure if that’s due to more crimes being committed, or if people are simply reporting them more often and officers are responding.
‘To a certain extent, the more people we arrest, we could end up (increasing) volume and minor crimes,’ Mr. Kernohan said.
Residents of West Bay and George Town urged police to focus more on neighbourhood crime and nuisance issues, including crimes generally considered less serious.
One George Town resident asked why it seemed that police weren’t enforcing laws against illegal dumping or dangerous dogs. Police commanders in both George Town and West Bay have recently pledged to crack down on those offences.
Others complained about dark streets, people blocking the streets with garbage cans or parked cars, and the general lack of available parking in downtown George Town.
Several residents said loud music being played from cars was becoming a more and more frequent disturbance in local neighbourhoods.