Police survey aimed at residents

A questionnaire aimed at determining how island residents view the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is expected to be released sometime next year.

Police are still formulating questions that will be asked and a spokesperson said polling experts may be brought in to make sure the survey is scientific.

‘This is not a simple process,’ said RCIPS public relations officer Deborah Denis. ‘We’re going to use these results to help determine our future policing plans. We need to get it right and make sure enough people respond.’

The review is expected to be similar to an annual study of criminality in the UK known as the British Crime Survey.

The British survey measures the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking people about their experience with crime over the past year. Unlike typical police department statistics, the British Crime Survey attempts to measure crimes that were not initially reported.

The survey also looks at people’s attitudes toward crime and the criminal justice system.

It asks questions such as how people have perceived changes in crime levels over the past two years; asks survey-takers to rate the job officers are doing; and seeks to determine how often poll respondents are contacting police.

The similar review being planned by the RCIPS is believed to be the first time Cayman Islands police have attempted to gauge public perception by way of specific polling data.

Statistics for the last two years in the Cayman Islands have shown a significant reduction in what the RCIPS considers serious crimes; murders, robberies, rapes, major assaults, burglaries and the like.

Serious crime dropped 26 per cent last year in Cayman, and has fallen a further eight per cent through the first half of 2007, according to quarterly police crime reports.

At a series of public meetings earlier this year, resident’s concerns were more focused on community crime issues like littering, loud music coming from cars, and reckless driving.

Recent concerns have also surrounded the $1.8 million purchase of a police helicopter, and how the department has used the aircraft owned by Cayman Islands Helicopters for various operations.

Residents of West Bay in particular were concerned about the lack of community participation in a recent meeting with police and government officials, especially in light of the unsolved killing of Marlon Brando Ebanks on 21 August.

Only 25-30 people turned out for the meeting last week, prompting West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin to ask where everyone was.

West Bay police station commander Angelique Howell distributed her own questionnaire at the meeting which also sought resident’s input on police perceptions. Chief Inspector Howell said she intended to distribute the document around West Bay district to get more feedback.

The West Bay survey asked a total of 13 multiple choice questions that sought resident’s opinions on how serious they thought the level of crime was in West Bay, and judge the quality of police service there. Residents were also asked whether their area had a neighbourhood watch.

Ms Howell said the survey responses would be kept anonymous.

‘How best am I going to know what is affecting the people if I don’t hear from the people,’ Ms Howell said. ‘What (are) their concerns? That will help me meet their demands.’

RCIPS officials said the West Bay survey is separate from the questionnaire that will be released by the department.

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