Both government members and top law
enforcement officials admitted Thursday that a 2006 report identifying the
“seeds of criminality” in the Cayman Islands has largely sat on the shelf for
the past three-and-a-half years, with little or no action taken on the
recommendations it contains.
Now, those seeds have germinated,
according to Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam.
“We are creating…marginalised and
disadvantaged children who grow up to be marginalised and disadvantaged
adults,” Mr. Adam said at the start of a two-day retreat held to study the 2006
report done by Barbadian criminologist Yolande Forde and hopefully implement
some of its recommendations. “We cannot afford to lose one more of our youth to
the streets in this small population.”
Attorney General Sam Bulgin
admitted that government had not made the recommendations contained in the
criminality report a top priority over the past few years as it struggled with
issues like a fading economy and revising Cayman’s constitutional agreement
with the United Kingdom.
Mr. Bulgin said recent law enforcement regimes here have been far too reactive.
“We have been preoccupied with how
to solve crime rather than paying attention to early intervention issues,” Mr.
The 2006 Forde report surveyed a
sample number of male prisoners at Northward and the juvenile detention
facility at Eagle House. It aimed to root out the underlying causes of criminal
behaviour in the Cayman Islands.
According to the study, some 47 per
cent of prisoners indicated they had been born to teenage mothers and many indicated
they had grown up in dysfunctional homes. Also, the study found that many had
performed poorly at school, never learning to read or write.
The report also identified a major
failing of the Cayman Islands educational
system in that it employed “social promotion” – the practice of passing students
through the grades based on age, not merit.
“These individuals would go into
the workplace and expect promotion and reward on that same basis and,
generally, that is a false expectation,” Mrs. Forde wrote in her report.
Cayman’s public education system
still practices the policy of social promotion.
A full 64 per cent of inmates
surveyed stated they had been either suspended or expelled from school; 60 per
cent said they had not graduated from high school.
Kids in the Cayman
Islands are getting into trouble at a younger age, according to
Royal Cayman Islands Police Inspector Anthony White.
“The percentage of juvenile arrests
proportionate to total arrest figures have grown,” Mr. White said Thursday
during his presentation to the retreat.
In addition, Inspector White said
offences committed by juveniles (those under 17 in Cayman
Islands law) are not longer simply just staying out late at night,
or drinking a beer before they turn 18.
These days, the four most common
offences committed by juveniles in the court system are drug-related crimes,
assaults, thefts and burglaries.
Inspector White also noted that
more than 41 per cent of the unemployed population in Cayman consists of people
who are between 15-24 years old. While he admits that’s not unusual in most
societies, that figure is of concern to Cayman.
There is hope, according to Mr.
White, who said the “80-20 rule” is still in effect for the Cayman
Islands. That means roughly 80 per cent of those children who do
come before the juvenile court system typically don’t re-offend.
“It’s the other 20 per cent we are
looking at in this retreat,” Mr. White said.
Participants in the retreat were
scheduled to meet through Friday, breaking up into five separate study groups
dealing with family, social, religious, education, and criminal justice issues.