Police suspects ‘tagged’ 50 days on average

Suspects released on police bail who are ordered to wear
electronic ankle monitors as a condition of bail are wearing the devices an
average of 50 days before they are removed, according to data provided to the
Caymanian Compass.

The records indicated that people arrested by police who
are later ‘bailed’ – meaning they are released without charges but are required
to report to the police station every two weeks while they remain under
investigation – have spent as few as 18 days and as many as 87 days wearing
ankle monitors.

Currently, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has no
established policy regarding the use of ankle monitors for individuals who have
not been charged with a crime. There is no maximum time a monitor can be worn,
and the court system is not involved in the decision to use an electronic ‘tag’
for someone who is released
on police bail.

The court system does decide on electronic monitors for
individuals who are bailed from the courts, and the prison system assigns
electronic monitors for certain inmates who
are let go as part of its early release programme.

From January through
Thursday, 7 October, 31 people had been assigned electronic monitors. According
to records provided by the 911 Emergency Communications Centre, 15 of the 31
being monitored had been released on police bail.

Thirteen of the 15 who
were tagged as a condition of police bail have since had their monitors
removed. Two monitors are currently assigned to individuals on police bail.

Of the 13 who have
finished their period of monitoring while on police bail, six wore the devices
for more than 50 days. One person wore their monitor for 87 consecutive days,
according to 911 records.

Under the recently
approved Police Bill, 2010, the RCIPS is allowed to hold suspects in lock up
only for eight days without charging them. 

Superintendent John Jones said the circumstances of each suspect’s monitoring
are weighed on a case-by-case basis.

“We take a proportionate
approach, balancing the individual’s rights with those of the community at
large,” Mr. Jones said. “We do not tag individuals suspected of involvement in
minor crime.”

“Minor crime” is not
specifically defined with regard to electronic monitoring, though police said
they are working on a draft policy for the police bail electronic monitoring

The offence each person
being electronically monitored is suspected of committing has not been released
in the records provided by emergency communications.  

The ability of police to
use electronic monitors on individuals released on police bail is a relatively
new power – implemented this year as an amendment to the Bail Law.

Prior to the
introduction of electronic monitoring, police were allowed to impose curfews on
those released on police bail without charge – but they had no way to monitor
on a 24/7 basis those who were released.

Deputy Governor Donovan
Ebanks said during Legislative Assembly debate on the bill that, quite
frequently, suspects who are released on police bail commit more offences even
before they are charged with the previous crimes.

“The bill does not
extend the current authority of the police to impose a curfew on a person
granted bail,” Mr. Ebanks said. “It should improve the effectiveness of the
exercise of that authority by providing actual evidence of violations of a

“(The decision to use)
the electronic monitoring system while on police bail is not taken lightly,”
Chief Superintendent Jones said in response to Caymanian Compass questions on
the matter. “The decision is made principally on the grounds of public safety.”

For example, there may
be instances where police are awaiting forensic results in specific cases where
an individual has been ‘tagged’. The length of time it takes for the results to
come through would have a bearing on the length of time the individual remains on
the monitoring system.