The release of police
crime statistics for 2009 is expected to reveal that overall crime
actually dropped in the latter part of last year.
However, the release of these facts
may do little to calm fears in the Cayman Islands that high profile criminal
incidents, including murders and robberies, are on the rise and that
residents here are just not as safe anymore.
If the numbers are saying one thing
and public sentiment another, Cayman may indeed be experiencing what
Police Commissioner David Baines likes to call the problem
of perception. That is, the perception of crime is outweighing the reality
of what is occurring on the streets.
The commissioner has been somewhat
critical of late regarding media headlines that he alleges are making
the perception of crime in the community worse.
Mr. Baines may not have been in
Cayman long enough to know this, but there was a time when the Islands’
media – the Caymanian Compass in particular – were derided by the local
population, and sometimes the wider world, over the perception that they
covered up anything bad that happened here.
Now, it seems the Compass and other
media organisations are getting static from the same public that once accused
the Cayman Islands media of covering up the news.
Serious violent crime happens
throughout the world, and many, many other jurisdictions have far greater
problems with it than Cayman.
Yet criminal acts, particularly in
a community unaccustomed to those acts, are absolutely newsworthy and it
is the duty of independent news organisations to report those events in a way
that means something to people who read/see/hear them.
These are not scare tactics or
newspaper selling devices designed to ruin the Cayman Islands, as some have
Rather, they represent what should
be the day-to-day labour of journalists in any free society; that is, bringing
people the news and information that matters to them.
We can’t help but wonder if those
who complain about alarmist media organisations are really concerned about
those organisations reporting a bit too much of what is actually happening
today in the Cayman Islands.