Today’s Editorial for June 2: More facts, please

Our front page story today will hopefully help illustrate a recent concern about information police share with the public.

We need more facts.

There is no doubt that within the past three years, the RCIPS has been among the most responsive public agencies in meeting with the community and trying, as best it can, to answer questions and concerns. RCIPS is one of the most forthright organisations so far in dealing with the country’s first open records law and it probably sends out more public notices and press releases than all the other government agencies combined; even those agencies that have far more staff.

There are those who will shout at this point: ‘What about the UK Met investigation!?!?’

To those folks, we would point out that debacle was led, for at least the majority of the time, by an entirely different police force and operated, largely, at the direction of UK bureaucrats

The progress police have made over the past few years is one of the reasons the Caymanian Compass is concerned about the current way crimes are reported to the public by police.

To put it simply, leaving specific numbers for incidents like murders and assaults off quarterly crime reports is not a good idea.

This is not the first time we have expressed concern about the new crime counting system now being used by the police service.

We wrote about it once before in a mid-2008 editorial:

(Under the new system) ‘…a man who kicks in the door of his ex-girlfriend’s house, assaults her, takes money from her purse and smashes some of her property has committed several offences. In the past, every one of those offences would have been counted as a separate crime on statistical reports.

‘In the new system, only the most serious crime (likely the assault) would be counted on the police reports.

‘While it’s true that, in the above case, only one incident of crime has actually taken place, the police will, with the proper evidence, take several separate charges to the court against that individual in relation to the one ‘incident’ of crime.

‘So, the new system will report one incident of crime occurring, while the police will take, say, potentially four charges against the individual to court.

‘The commission of a crime is not, or at least should not be, one thing in a court of law and another thing when presented to the public.’

And now the police want to group the commission of major crimes, like murder, into a ‘serious violent crime’ stat on a report that doesn’t give the full picture of what is happening to residents.

We believe the RCIPS would err greatly by regressing to the ‘delay, delay, deny, deny’ tactics of bygone days. But these crime reporting procedures give us cause to be concerned that this is precisely what is happening.