Two years after it submitted plans for an internal sex-offenders registry to the Legal Drafting Department, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service still doesn’t know when the plan will be forwarded to the Legislative Assembly.
Asked about the apparent delay Thursday, a Legal Drafting Department representative said the department is not permitted to speak with the media and directed questions to Attorney General Sam Bulgin’s office. Mr. Bulgin was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Caymanian Compass last week.
Those involved with the plan confirmed the proposal left the Police Department in July 2006, after Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan signed off on the plan. Mr. Bulgin also approved the proposal before the plan went to Legal Drafting.
The RCIPS said Wednesday the registry would help to monitor and supervise convicted sex offenders and envisaged including details such as the offender’s name, aliases, distinguishing marks, photograph, place of abode, work place and DNA samples.
While the main intended users of the register were to be law enforcement officials, the RCIPS said it would be up to legislators to decide whether the information should also be available to the public.
Similar registers have been established in other countries in response to public fears about sex predators lurking in communities. Under the United Kingdom’s government-run sex-offenders registry, the information is not available to the public, however in the United States, under Megan’s Law, the public has access to information about convicted sex offenders.
‘The advantages of such a register include the increased supervision and tracking of convicted sexual offenders, particularly those at high risk of re-offending after expiry of their parole or probation period, through knowledge of their patterns of offending and place of abode and employment, which will highlight any contact they may have with potential new victims,’ the RCIPS release stated.
Community outrage over a two year sentence recently given to a man in his 20s who indecently assaulted a boy aged five led to renewed calls for a publically accessible sex-offenders registry.
Those calls were heightened after two men, aged 52 and 26, were arrested last week over allegations they had raped a young girl.
The men remained in custody at press time Thursday. Police have not named the men as charges are yet to be filed against them.
The Caymanian Compass’ 30 September report on the former case brought about a wave of outraged calls to talk radio shows and caused one local businesswoman to announce plans to establish a privately run sex offenders registry that would name and shame sex offenders.
Sandra Catron, a former political candidate and talk show host, said she would have the sex-offenders registry hosted abroad if necessary to overcome certain legal restrictions on what can be reported on in court proceedings involving young people and sexual offences.
On Thursday, government ministers admitted they have not been consulted on the RCIPS’s sex-offenders registry proposal, saying their knowledge of it was limited to what they had seen in the media.
‘I can’t answer why it has taken so long because I honestly don’t know,’ said Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, pledging to find out more about the hold up.
He said his government has not yet taken a position on whether a sex-offenders registry should be introduced or whether it should be made publically available.
‘It hasn’t reached us yet so I don’t have the benefit of all of the research that would have been done which will say ‘these are the reasons for and these are the reasons against’,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.
Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin lamented that the elected Government’s lack of political responsibility for policing means they aren’t being consulted on issues that many in the public have strong opinions on.
‘Even major policy issues like [this] … never filters through to the elected government until a paper is brought to Cabinet … even the broader policy discussion hasn’t been had with us and it should have,’ he said.
Mr. McLaughlin said he understands community outrage over recent child-sex cases.
‘It is understandable and commendable that we all want people that perpetrate these most heinous of crimes, particularly against young people, [to be] held up to public criticism and that everyone should know who these people are.
However, he said he is concerned about situations in which identifying the offender reveals the identity of the victim.
‘The concerns that many people have, myself included, are about the impact of this public disclosure on the development and life of this particular individual and also the family,’ he said.
‘It is how we strike that balance so the people of the country know and they can take such steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from the potential actions of sex offenders and hold them up to public criticism and outrage … but at the same time limit the additional damage that can and is likely to be done to that victim,’ he said.
‘How we strike that balance is the real challenge in a place as small as the Cayman Islands.’