Cayman shores ‘under patrolled’

Police funding reduced

Lengthy repairs to the Cayman Islands Marine Unit’s largest patrol vessel along with delays in completing the transfer of a police helicopter and three new police patrol boats to the islands has left Cayman’s border security in question.

‘There has been an element of under patrolling,’ Chief Secretary George McCarthy told the finance committee of the Legislative Assembly on Friday evening.

Mr. McCarthy’s comments came in response to a question about why $500,000 had been removed from the Royal Cayman Islands Police patrol budget in the current fiscal year.

‘(That money) was part of the allocations that have been made for sea patrols,’ he told committee members. ‘Because (Cayman) Protector (the marine unit’s main patrol craft) was not operational for half a year, this money could not be spent.’

Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin then questioned whether the country’s coastlines had been under patrolled, and asked whether there had been requirements to get ‘proper sea-going vessels’ for the RCIPS.

Mr. McCarthy said millions of dollars have been provided in this year’s budget to build new patrol craft for the marine unit, including a 65 foot vessel and a smaller vessel for Grand Cayman, along with a 36-38 foot patrol vessel for the Sister Islands.

The chief secretary said he expected the first craft to arrive in Grand Cayman this year, and another to be delivered later.

‘We will have them in place within the next year,’ he said.

The RCIPS also continues to contract with Cayman Helicopters for the use of its craft on police patrol missions. A $1.8 million 1999 model Eurocopter, which the police service purchased last year for its exclusive use, is now in the US awaiting regulatory approval and government bids for the construction of its hangar, the hiring of its maintenance personnel and the appointment of its pilot.

The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, which has responsibility for the police service, also subtracted some $1 million from this year’s budget, which was earmarked for the development of a new marine base in Newlands. Mr. McCarthy said the department simply wasn’t able to spend the money within the fiscal year and that some items had to be held over into the next budget, which starts 1 July.

Another $500,000 in spending on renovations and expansion of the West Bay police station was delayed until next year’s budget.