West Bay residents surveyed on crime

Hundreds of West Bay
residents who attended a Saturday night public meeting on crime in the district
were given a survey that asked for meeting participants’ stances on various
anti-crime initiatives.

The survey was drawn up by the West
Bay Community Development Action Committee.

Among the questions asked were
whether residents would be in favour of “publishing” facial photos of individuals
accused of or charged with serious crimes, such as murder or rape, prior to any
conviction by a court of law.  

Typically, the Royal Cayman Islands
Police Service has declined to publish such photos of “wanted” suspects. Although
in at least two relatively recent cases, photos were published of men wanted in
connection with firearms-related crimes.

Releasing “wanted” photos and descriptions of criminal suspects, particularly
those that are considered an immediate threat to the community, is a
long–established practice in the United States
and the United Kingdom.
Both of those countries have television shows devoted entirely to the
identifying, tracking and location of criminal suspects.

However, police in Cayman have been discouraged in the past from
releasing photos of suspects, particularly those who have not been named in
formal charges filed before the court.

Police Commissioner David Baines said he made the final decision at the
time Royce Leon Cornwall’s photograph was released to the press and the general
public.

“This man is wanted by police for serious offences,” Mr. Baines said
(see Caymanian Compass, 7 September). “We carefully balanced the requirement to
ensure public safety against the rights of the individual concerned.”

Mr. Baines said police also considered the effects releasing what is, in
effect, a wanted poster could have on future court proceedings.

The police have since released
wanted photos of another individual, Dainian Cecil Henry, who escaped from
police officers’ custody in George
Town on 25 October.

The West Bay survey also asked
residents whether they would support police advising the community whenever any
inmate is released from prison after serving time for a serious offence; murder,
rape, robbery and the like.

For several years, law enforcement
officials have sought to establish a public registry of sex offenders in the
Cayman Islands. Right now, information on offenders’ whereabouts after they are
released from lock up is known to police, but not to the general public.

Cayman Islands Attorney General Sam
Bulgin said such a proposal was legally and practically difficult in a small
jurisdiction.

The attorney general cautioned Legislative Assembly last year that
careful consideration was needed before moving ahead with a sex offender
registry in Cayman, particularly if parts of the register are to be made
public.

Mr. Bulgin said he has heard comments in certain quarters about “the
utility of such a measure in a small country.”

“Is someone who lives in Bodden
Town going to register with the police
station in West Bay because they are going to spend the
weekend there?” Mr. Bulgin said. “The question is whether it is workable.”

Mr. Bulgin said he was concerned about simply cutting and pasting legislation
from larger jurisdictions such as the US
or the UK.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Clearly the status quo is not working in Cayman as regards crime. To not release photos, videos, etc to the public is to ignore improvements in technology that can assist the apprehension of criminals.

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