Talks about 7MB attack
Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines lambasted the local press Wednesday during a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, referencing apparently non-existent news reports of a robbery on Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach.
“There was an incident last week where it was ‘tourist robbed and stabbed on Seven Mile Beach’. The other version that says intoxicated man attending a nightclub at midnight and a fall out between boys over girls…doesn’t sell stories, doesn’t make headlines and it doesn’t start with the word tourist.”
Commissioner Baines’ comments apparently referenced media reports about an assault involving a 21-year-old American tourist near Calico Jack’s bar. According to a brief police report on the incident: “The RCIPS is investigating a report of an assault that occurred just before midnight on Wednesday, 19 January on Seven Mile Beach adjacent to Calico Jack’s.”
Mr. Baines claimed that ‘headlines’ indicated there had been a robbery. However, a review of all local press reports on the incident – including those in the Caymanian Compass – found that no media sources had reported the incident as a robbery. In fact, the Compass could find no evidence that the word ‘tourist’ had been used in any news story headlines in either the newspaper or in a local on-line news service.
There was some speculation on Internet comment forums that the incident had been a robbery, but other commenters on those forums said that the incident had not been a robbery.
Mr. Baines did not precisely state what the incident on Seven Mile Beach did involve in his comments to the Chamber’s “Be informed” meeting Wednesday. Police never issued any further press releases regarding the 19 January incident.
Calls for a clarification regarding the commissioner’s statements had not been returned by press time.
“You wonder how many times we need to shoot ourselves in the foot, and that’s not about trying to hide what’s going on, it’s about giving facts,” Mr. Baines told about 30 members of the Chamber audience.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Baines urged the press to report responsibly on crime figures that showed serious crimes rose by only one incident between 2009 and 2010.
“Despite the fact that the Cayman Islands is still a relatively safe place to live, work and visit when compared to the crime situation in other jurisdictions, we very rarely see anything in the media that reflects that,” the commissioner said at a press briefing held at RCIPS headquarters.
Just a few minutes after making that statement at the news conference, the commissioner also opined: “2010 was a bit of a turbulent time in relation to crime…gang and gun related crime spiralled to levels never before seen in the Cayman Islands.”
Total crime rose by just more than four per cent for the year.
When comparing 2008 to 2010, RCIPS numbers show there were 81 more serious crimes reported in 2010; an increase of about 11 per cent.
Robberies went from 46 reports in 2009 to 64 reports in 2010; a 39 per cent jump. Some of those instances were believed to involve gang initiation, Mr. Baines said.
Attempted robberies also went up, along with attempted murders and defilement.
Some crimes saw a drop in 2010 including burglaries, assaults, woundings and murders – which dropped by one case from the previous year.
Drugs-related crimes were a major concern. RCIPS officers made far fewer arrests for drugs in 2010 than in 2009 or 2008.
Mr. Baines said this was partly due to a change in police strategy, and partly due to staff adjustments that had left the police drugs task force with fewer people.
He said RCIPS was spending more time investigating drug supply chains and less time looking to arrest street level dealers.
“It’s quite apparent to us that there are increasing levels of cocaine,” Mr. Baines said. “The purity of the cocaine is about as pure as you’ll get.”
Mr. Baines told the Chamber audience that, while Cayman is having its difficulties with crime, it is not anywhere near the problems seen in countries like Jamaica and Guyana over the past year.
He urged the group to “look up from our feet” to see what is going on in the rest of the Caribbean.
The commissioner also felt it had become “very easy” in recent times to criticise the police service.
“It goes back to the era of [Operation] Tempura,” he said to the Chamber group, referencing the two-year long police corruption investigation undertaken by officers from the UK Metropolitan Police force. “I think that left us with a legacy of a lack of confidence by a public who were waiting to see different.”
“But I’m not sure the media have caught up with the change in the dynamics of what’s going on in the police. If there’s a positive story or a negative one, I guarantee you it will be negative – and that’s a message to all the media in the room.”