Police to update
 website news

Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines has promised that his organisation will soon be entering the Internet age in earnest.

The RCIPS website, which officially launched in early 2009, is still up and running. It contains all sorts of information ranging from police crime statistics, security licensing, firearms applications and police policies to name a few topics.

However, the “news” section of the site has fallen a bit behind the times.

The last police press release to be issued on the site – as of Friday – was for the killing of Alrick Peddie last year. The item was released on 1 April, 2010.

Also, the “Information for the media” section of the website lists two individuals at the bottom of the page as press contacts, Deborah Denis and Karen Clarke. Both left the department in 2009. The RCIPS’ current media liaison, Janet Dougall, is not listed.

The front page of the site states that the new section of the website “will be under construction until further notice”.

“In the next few weeks, the news section of the RCIPS website will be fully operational again,” Mr. Baines said at a recent press conference. “It’s our intention to place our news updates directly into that site as soon as it is operationally practicable.”

Mr. Baines said this would be done following “any serious incidents” where there is a need to appeal for information.

Although the RCIPS adopted a policy in 2010 that required media communications to be restricted to business hours during the week, it has made several recent exceptions to that general policy for serious events. Those included a recent attempted robbery during which shots were fired at the MoneyGram store in Meringue Town Plaza, and other business robberies since the start of the year.

The police service has previously stated it would release information after hours if commanders felt it was important to an investigation to do so.

“That decision will be made on a case-by-case basis,” Mrs. Dougall said when asked about the police communications policy last year.

Mrs. Dougall said there was no particular concern about officers releasing incorrect information. However, she said issues concerning what information should or should not be released sometimes became a bone of contention after the fact.

“The decision about the timing of any release is based on the needs of the investigation as well as the accuracy and the appropriateness of the information available,” she said.

Mr. Baines said he hoped the website updates would assist in getting the correct information out in a timely fashion.

“Most people learn about crime through the media,” he said. “Therefore, the way it is reported can obviously be a major factor in fuelling people’s fears, or controlling them.”

1 COMMENT

  1. You read it here first.

    On 28 February I posted –
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    The news section of the RCIPS website does not appear to have been updated for over a year, it still lists contact information for the media relations team who left during 2009. In contrast my local force in the UK posts news updates almost in real time and we can find press officers 24/7.

    My media sources in Cayman also complain that direct contact with the RCIPS has significantly decreased in the past two years, with the press officer often being unobtainable and routine media briefings no longer being held. And what happened to the second press officer post created in 2008 to give better coverage?

    Without formal lines of communication the media will use informal ones, and if that means they print material that causes offence who is to blame? It is no good alleging (apparently incorrectly in this case) that trained and experienced journalists are getting things wrong when the fact is that the material they need to keep the public informed is being withheld from them, possibly by the same person who is making the complaint.

    Mr Baines, if you want the press to keep the public informed all you have to do is trust them and talk to them – its that simple.
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    It is good to read this positive response to public comment.