Crime clearance rates improve

Royal Cayman Islands Police crime clearance rates improved during 2008 to pre-Hurricane Ivan levels, according to a statistical report released by the government last week.

The statistics showed that 45 per cent of all reported crimes for 2008 had been cleared; which means they were investigated and brought before the court, or the investigation determined no crime had been committed.

The 45 per cent clearance rate for 2008 is the highest recorded by police since 2004, when 46 per cent of crimes in the Islands were reported cleared.

However, the police service is not close to crime clearance levels in the lower-70 per cent range reached in the early part of the decade.

Police officials have previously pointed out that many crimes committed in a particular year are not cleared or resolved in that year, so statistics may change over time as new cases are dealt with through the investigative process and the court system.

Of all crimes noted in the report, drugs, theft and burglary cases had among the lowest clearance rates.

For 2008, of the 546 burglaries committed, only 160 had been cleared; a 29 per cent clearance rate. Burglary clearance rates have been generally low in Cayman in recent years with the rate reaching 26 per cent in 2006.

Clearance rates for theft were 47.5 per cent and clearances on drug cases were 45 per cent for 2008.

Specific violent crimes like murder are not recorded on the yearly statistical report; however the Caymanian Compass has recently performed its own analysis of those figures with assistance from police.

According to Superintendent Marlon Bodden, police have cleared about 62 per cent of the murder cases investigated between 2003 and 2008. Some of those cases still listed as not cleared include the October 2008 killing of Cable and Wireless Communications Manager Estella Scott-Roberts, where two men have been charged but still await trial.

So far in 2009, police have officially cleared none of the five murder cases they have investigated. However, charges have been filed in two of the killings – those of 42-year-old Sherman A. Bodden and 21-year-old Sabrina Schirn. Trials for the murder suspects are scheduled for later this year.

Three recent arrests were also made in the killing of 28-year-old Omar Samuels but no charges had been filed in that case at press time.

No arrests have been made in connection with the death of 17-year-old Jerome Russell in January, and no-one has been charged in the killing of 20-year-old Marcus Ebanks in July.

Last year also saw far fewer criminal cases coming before the Cayman Islands court system.

Although the courts handled nearly 10,000 criminal cases, according to government records, those numbers are a far cry from the 12,179 the courts handled in 2007. Civil cases were also sharply down from 1,118 in 2007 to 947 in 2008.

There was some increase in the number of youth court and juvenile court cases reported for 2008, but data for those generally shows substantial fluctuation from year to year.