Crime must be tackled now, says tourism body

Cayman must be proactive in its safety and security before tourism is affected.  

Karie Bergstrom of the Tourism Advisory Council warned that action must be taken to address the issue immediately. 

“I firmly believe that as a country we can’t sit and wait and rely on statistics to show there is a declining trend in the safety of the Islands because in my opinion at that point it is too late,” she said. “If those numbers decline to a point that it impacts our tourism, and every other industry, at that point it is too late. We have to work proactively to support the police and work in a manner that will allow us to make sure we do not get to those numbers.” 

People were prone to look to crime statistics as a catalyst, she said, but it was important not to allow things to get to the stage where figures were obviously negative. 

“Statistics are good when they show we are improving and working and they are good to follow but my point is that we should not sit down, be complacent and let those statistics get in your face,” Ms Bergstrom said. “It is everybody’s business and everybody needs to take part in this. If we say, as an example, that we’ve had a 20 per cent increase in robberies that is really bad; for me I would want to know how many tourists were impacted by that because we still have to be concerned about word of mouth. It is our No. 1 marketing tool.” 

 

Tourism can assist 

The Tourism Advisory Council represents all sectors of the tourism industry and advises the government through the Ministerial Council for Tourism. Ms Bergstrom said that there have already been moves made to discuss how the industry could assist in the security arena. 

“We have had issues, and to me it’s almost in a cycle, which is certainly clearly attached to the economic environment that we live in,” she said. “I know that the Premier recently came out with a Crime Prevention Strategy. The Tourism Advisory Council has gone back to our members and asked for ideas on how we can support Royal Cayman Islands Police force and government and what we can help them do.” 

She said the Department of Tourism had informed the council of their intent to work more closely with the media to make sure that reporting was factual in the event of a crime. 

“[They are] working to get the right thing out there; we are not sticking our heads in the sand or trying to cover everything up,” she said. “It is the reality and [we cannot] try to cover up and not accept that. We have to try and be proactive with what we can do about it otherwise we will wake up one morning and it will be too late.” 

The responsibility for crime reporting and safety of the Islands is a shared social one which affects everybody in the Cayman Islands, said Ms. Bergstrom. 

“Safety is everybody’s business; we cannot sit back and say this all sits in the hands of government and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Force,” she said. “If you see something suspicious don’t be afraid – there are avenues in which you can report this on an anonymous level.” 

 

Development and re-energisation 

The council has also put its support behind future developments including the planned hospital by Dr. Shetty, said the council chairman. 

“We are very excited about the announcement and look forward to see how we can support moving into that medical tourism arena,” she said. “It is a whole new industry for us, we are well positioned to make that happen and now we need to ensure that as industry private partners we do what we can to help.” 

As more information comes out about the ForCayman Investment Alliance, the council is ready to input into that situation too, she added. 

“I also work on economic impact in countries and I know full well that economic stimulus is extremely important to every country when you are in a recession,” she said. “Just sitting back and leaving it to government to do is a bit irresponsible.  

“It is too early for us to say exactly how this whole deal will come together … but we are willing and able to give feedback and hear more about what is happening. It would be good to see something done to that [Courtyard Marriott] site. Any time we can see that a site is redeveloped and re-engerised it is a win-win for all around.”
Ms Bergstrom said it was important to place Cayman in context with the regional situation at the moment. 

“Certainly we have got sectors we need improving on, we need to get something done with the dock and the berthing,” she said. “We have to get that moving forward as we are missing out on the legacy vessels. We just need to do it. All the Caribbean is struggling. I travel the Caribbean and I see what the other islands are going through. I am very happy with the way that we are moving and happy with the things I am seeing.” 

bergstrom

Ms Bergstrom
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12 COMMENTS

  1. At last! The ‘penny seems to have dropped’ ; it is essential that the violent crime is stamped out before it is too late.
    We dearly love the Cayman Islands, and would be terribly sad to think that our (many) happy times on the island of Grand Cayman are a thing of the past.
    Again – i stress – URGENT ACTION required by the Police.

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  2. Our leader is caught up in so many things but fails to address the crime issue. We are lucky that this is not on the diplomatic alerts about our crime issues. I am so glad that others have put it front and center.
    Leadership must understand that crime drives away the most important import we have. Only our leader don’t get it.

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  3. The introduction of guns on a large scale completely changed the dynamic of crime in the Cayman Islands. Until the police accept that and deal with it, nothing will change for the better. Will an unarmed police person race to a crime where the criminal is likely armed? Figure it out…

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  4. I am sure the armed response team would race to the crime scene though.

    Let’s face it, the gun crimes are being perpetrated by a very small minority of idiots. There is no denying they are idiots, every society has them, and they get a lot of press. Seriously, who else would consider the severity of an armed-robbery stretch, for the sake of a few dollars? Why not run into a liquor store, unarmed, snatch some brandy or champagne, and make off with stock worth a few dollars on the black market, with the threat of a shoplifting conviction instead.

    Arming all police will not solve much. Why not give all residents a mini thermo-nuclear device to protect themselves?

    The police are a small part of a solution. They are not responsible for court decisions, prison conditions, the ‘keep quiets’ in every neighbourhood, broken families…

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  5. And the armed response team is slow.

    So the reason why the criminals use armed force. Is because more than likely they will get away with using armed force.

    If the bad guys knew every cop was armed and itching to use thier shiny new toys. Basically meaning a death sentence for armed robbery. You would see alot less armed robbery.

    But we can’t have that now, can we. Even the criminals threatening to kill others, have a right not to die. They may kill someone and we will all say tough luck for that dead person. We will still coddle the bad guy.

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  6. big berd: Tell me on what you base your evidence of the armed response team being slow? Is it because they perhaps were not at the actual site of a robbery at the time?

    I remember the CCTV footage of Reflections being shown on this website. The robbery took less than 1 minute, now tell me, without the powers of say, Superman, how do you propose officers apprehend these fools?

    Ah, so the use of guns is only because they don’t fear being shot. Hmmmm, so if we introduced the death penalty, then that would also stop murderers. As you can see, in the US states with the death penalty, there are no serious crimes.

    If an armed officer is confronted with an armed suspect, and that suspect appears to be pose a threat to the officer, I am pretty sure there would be very little hesitation in the officer discharging his weapon. The point is, this scenario happens every day…oh no, it doesn’t, does it!

    You are more likely to be killed by a fool recklessly driving a car here, than a fool with a gun.

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  7. So, more likely to be killed by a car than a fool with a gun. Well tell that to the little old lady who just got shot 3 times for her purse.

    Tell that to the people who have been shot. Tell them, that they don’t need armed officers on every street corner to protect them. Because the armed unit is obviously faster on the scene than a normal patrol officer. Do you seriously listen to yourself?!

    The patrol officer will always be able to approach the scene before the armed response unit.

    ALWAYS.

    The patrol officer is already in a car, in motion. The armed response team, must suit up get out to the vehicle, start said vehicle and come from a preterminded spot. sometimes many many miles away.

    The armed response team, therefore will always be slower to react than the patrol man. That’s why I say. Give all police firearms. This island has less than 60k people on it. And has more armed robberies in one year, than that of a minor US or Canadian city of 500K people. Does that not tell you something?

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  8. 1. Unbelievable, but true. More people die through car accidents, than by shootings in this country. You can tell that to anyone, however a recent victim of gun crime may have a somewhat skewed opinion. I think we should also have Cigarette Police on every corner too, apparently, they can kill too.

    2. You are aware that Armed Response units do actually go out on patrol? They are not locked away in a room until ‘needed’.

    3. I fail to see how you can draw a parallel with a city in USA/Canada. The Caribbean has a very different set of issues, and these vary from island to island. What it does tell me, is that there are some very foolish young men on this island who need to be off the street.

    4. Banana Republic? No, we are not a clothing retailer. (actually, yes, you are right)

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  9. Somebody is facing reality and saying it. Crime needs to be tackled now. The Police need to be better armed to deal with the crime. One armed unit is like a joke. We need several armed units on each shift. A baton cannot deal with armed gunmen. The police force needs to be shaken up and the corruption cleaned out. If a police officer is willing to get a traffic offence or a domestic assault offence dropped what else will they cover or drop. The entire blame is not at the door of the police – the court system is a joke. The judges are letting the criminals off or sending them away with a pat on the wrist. And lastly but definately not the least when the public knows information and are not willing to give to the police whether for fear of the police talking or because they are covering for someone then we can’t expect crime to be solved. So Mr. Governor and Mr. Premier you need to do the following:
    1. Have more armed and trained police on each shift
    2. Deal with corruption in the force. The public needs to have confidence in the police.
    3. Investigate the court system and the judges. They are human beings like all of us and if they are messing up by not listening, reading the evidence properly then they should not have the job. In any other job if you don’t perform the job is gone.
    This is our island, without tourist we all are going to suffer. We the people need the powers to be to do something now.

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  10. Well said New Day! You hit the nail on the head!
    What I would like to see is a public address from the Governor and/or the Premier addressing all these issues and actually start showing some results!
    They need to instill some confidence in the public that something is going to be done to reduce crime on our island, and to do it pronto! There is only every talk from concerned citizen on the internet, but from the powers that be only silence! The public is crying out for some drastic measures to be taken, why are they falling on def ears?

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  11. Until the local media starts reporting the facts, and I don’t meand GIS facts, the public will not see the danger and devistation the crime is causing in Cayman. Statistics are just that. Stats! The fact is, a stabbing and a gunshot is LIFE Threaening!!! Candy coat it as they may, any wound related to foul pay is life threatening!!!

    Get real, face the reality, and stop the legal games. I realize thre is the law, but using it as a scare tactic to scare a judge is not accaptable.

    That said, I sold my house and moved. I loved the Caymans, and until crime can be handled, WE, wil lcontinuse to sell and move. MAybe organazations lik eCERIBA, and some of the major Realestate complnie swil feel enough pinch to speak up, and get something accomplished.

    For now, if I were the Island, I would prepare for mass exidious of major contributors, and the rath of econmic problems that follow suit.

    Do something now, or it will only grow worse. Hiding the statistics wil only make the wound fester.

    Enough said

    Howard

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