Cayman Islands leaders have released a broad outline of the country’s plans to stem the recent rise in crime following a slew of recent high-profile robberies and shootings on Grand Cayman.
Many of the proposals include issues that have been discussed for years in the Cayman Islands, including the use of electronic monitoring of those paroled from Northward prison, modernising the Police Law, and reviewing licensing of local nightclubs.
According to Deputy Chief Secretary Franz Manderson, the meeting focused on ways to control gun crimes and other serious violent crimes, and ways to assist young people who are considered to be ‘at risk’ of embarking on a path toward criminality.
The first point agreed to by law enforcement officials, as well as elected government ministers and Governor Stuart Jack, was that a special task force be formed within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to focus on gun crime and other serious violent crime.
Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush has often advocated this point in recent months.
‘Hard action must be taken now,’ Mr. Bush said in August, adding that he supported increasing Cayman’s current mandatory ten year sentence for gun crimes.
The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce has supported this position, which would require a legislative change to effect. Chamber members have not stated how much the mandatory minimum sentence should be increased.
The Chamber said it is also encouraging members to work with police to establish an inter-connected Islands-wide closed-circuit TV monitoring system that can feed directly in to police stations.
Chamber Chief Executive Officer Wil Pineau has said some companies in the past have resisted acquiring CCTV because of the high cost, but he believes businesses are more willing to lay out the cash with violent crimes on the rise.
‘The big thing that we would want to do is come up with some connectivity throughout a system for CCTV cameras,’ Mr. Pineau said. ‘You have to develop a national plan for CCTV.’
Two laws that have been under review for the past year include the Police Bill (2008) and a revamped Liquor Licensing Law. Neither of those bills has been brought before the Legislative Assembly, although a draft of the Police Bill was circulated last year.
The Liquor Licensing Law was being drafted with an eye toward enacting tougher restrictions on nightclub security in attempts to prevent clubs from becoming hot spots for criminal activity.
Police Commissioner David Baines has also spoken of the need to create effective witness protection schemes, including some measures that` do not require witnesses to appear in court to testify and which will seek fewer jury trials in gun crime cases to prevent juror intimidation.
‘When we have people in the judiciary who are fearful of retribution, how can we expect the public to come forward?’ Commissioner Baines asked an audience of Chamber of Commerce members in August, adding that evidence had been brought in certain Cayman criminal trials that would have led to a conviction if not for juror intimidation.
The group agreed that Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam should spearhead a government effort to work with at risk youths. The effort was recommended in a 2006 survey of crime in the Cayman Islands.
Also, leaders said that a criminal justice steering committee, chaired by the attorney general, should be established as soon as possible. The committee would seek to community aspects of crime prevention including alternate sentencing, parole, rehabilitation and community involvement.