Background checks not consistent

Criminal background checks done in foreign countries on workers seeking entry to the Cayman Islands are spotty and incomplete in the case of many jurisdictions, Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines said last week.

Mr. Baines said it’s not just a problem with workers coming from poorer areas. He said even the richest countries on the planet often don’t provide adequate data.

‘(There’s) something like 14,000 law enforcement agencies within the US, and we don’t have the capacity to speak to every one,’ Mr. Baines said. ‘But if I needed a clear remit as to whether a person…has a clear background, that’s effectively what I’d have to do.’

In other countries, Mr. Baines said law enforcement simply doesn’t have the capability or even the wherewithal to perform rigorous checks, or any checks at all.

‘So we really have a difficult problem in vetting from the outset,’ he said.

The commissioner’s comments came during a question and answer session at last week’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Grand Cayman Marriott.

One member attending the event stated that such background checks currently don’t provide much value in terms of a worker’s risk.

‘Is there any way you can (have) a higher level of due diligence and know a bit more about people that we allow to come and live and work in Cayman?’ Kim Davis asked. ‘I just wish we could do something that was a bit more effective.’

Mr. Baines said the short answer to that question was no.

‘There’s no consistent applicable process across the world that gives me confidence,’ he said. ‘I have more confidence in certain jurisdictions than others.’

For instance, in the United Kingdom, Mr. Baines said national computer records are able to identify previous offences under the law, even for minor issues such as speeding violations and the like.

‘In many environments, that same sort of rigour exists,’ he said.

However, a similar national system, long-debated in the US, has previously led to charges of ‘Orwellian legislation’ particularly from civil liberties groups and Democratic Party lawmakers, among others.

A background check done in a particular county within a US state, for instance, might turn up nothing on that individual. However, that check wouldn’t reveal a previous conviction for a crime committed in say, another state. Information contained in federal crime databases also might not always be accessible to local authorities, depending on the nature of the offence.

Commissioner Baines said the ultimate answer may be to simply encourage a more rigorous vetting process once individuals arrive in Cayman. He did not give specifics on what that might entail.