Police stations need upgrade

Some serious shortcomings in police detention and operating facilities have already been identified in preliminary budget discussions with Royal Cayman Islands Police officials and members of the Cayman Islands Cabinet.

Newly-arrived Police Commissioner David Baines said these problems have all been discussed years prior to his arrival; but correcting them becomes a matter of priorities in what’s likely to be a lean spending plan for the upcoming 2009-2010 budget.

‘A number of issues have already arisen, not least came from Cabinet a concern about some of the estates of the Island not being fit for purpose,’ Mr. Baines said.

Among those areas identified by government members was the Cayman Brac police station which was demolished in Hurricane Paloma last November.

Right now, police on the Brac are set up in temporary offices in the University College of the Cayman Islands building.

Mr. Baines also identified both the West Bay and George Town central police stations as areas in desperate need of improvement.

‘There was a real issue…about West Bay, actually the station, the size of the community and the demands facing it is another area,’ he said. ‘We’ve raised with the governor the state of the central (George Town) lock up and detention facilities on the Island which, if we’re going to prefer obligations under human rights legislation, need to be addressed and fairly quickly.’

The voter-approved Cayman Islands constitution will require the country, within four years, to fully separate convicted prisoners from those who have not been convicted. It also requires juvenile prisoners to be kept separate from adults.

In the past, some convicted prisoners have been held at the George Town police station lock up for their safety or for questioning at certain times.

There have also been cases previously identified where younger prisoners are kept in the same buildings as those over the age of 21.

Mr. Baines said Cayman has no purpose-built facilities for those in need of psychiatric assistance, who often have to be housed in police holding cells temporarily. He said it’s another reason to improve conditions in the cells.

‘We as a professional, first-world organisation would not want to be accused of having third-world facilities,’ he said.

‘Some of the cells, ‘not fit for purpose’ is a polite way of saying it,’ Governor Stuart Jack agreed. ‘The challenge is to find the resources to meet those issues.’