Cayman shows way on tracking criminals

Officials from three British Overseas Territories have been on a fact-finding mission to the Cayman Islands to monitor how authorities here administer an electronic monitoring programme for criminals. 

The officials hope after seeing how the “tagging” system works – fixing devices to vehicles or attaching ankle bracelets to criminals – they could set up the scheme in their territories. 

Last week, a magistrate, a police sergeant, a prison chief and a probation officer visiting from neighbouring Caribbean islands were “tagged” with ankle bracelets and had their movements monitored for 24 hours to experience first-hand how the programme works.  

During their three-day visit to Grand Cayman, the four officials – two from the British Virgin Islands, one from Turks and Caicos and another from Anguilla – also undertook training on the monitoring system run jointly in the Cayman Islands by the Department of Public Safety’s Electronic Monitoring Centre and The Security Centre. 

Steve Fradley, the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Prison Reform Coordinator for the Overseas Territories, coordinated the visit as a fact-finding venture and to boost intra-island cooperation. The FCO has set aside funding for UK territories to implement various criminal justice initiatives. Last week, the Cayman Islands unveiled a new screening device for contraband at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward, which was facilitated through FCO funding. 

“Pilot projects on electronic monitoring will now take place in various territories over the next few months,” Mr. Fradley said. 

Officials from each of visiting island were given two devices apiece to implement a pilot project for enhanced supervision of low-risk offenders. The visitors also had meetings with representatives from the Department of Community Rehabilitation, the prison and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. 

Electronic monitoring is a form of surveillance consisting of an electronic device attached to a person or vehicle, especially criminals, allowing their whereabouts to be monitored. In general, devices locate themselves using GPS and report its position back to a control centre. 

The electronic monitoring programme in the Cayman Islands was implemented in 2007 in the wake of the passage of the Alternative Sentencing Law 2006. That law was designed to address alternative punishment through curfew orders, suspended sentence supervision, probation, community service and electronic monitoring. 

Since its inception, a total of 79 people have been assigned monitoring devices as part of the local programme, said Brent Finster, communications director for the Department of Public Safety. 

On Monday, 3 October, 21 people were enrolled in the programme with GPS tracking ankle bracelets, Mr. Finster said.  

Making the trip to Grand Cayman last week were a magistrate from the British Virgin Islands; a sergeant from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force; a prison superintendent from Turks and Caicos Islands; and a probation officer from Anguilla. 

“This visit to Grand Cayman was an excellent opportunity for officials from other Overseas Territories to look at the Cayman experience of setting up an offender electronic monitoring system,” Mr. Fradley said. “All those who came to Cayman have been extremely impressed with everything they have seen and the visit has served to improve links and working relationships between various agencies in the 
criminal justice field.” 

Ankle bracelet monitoring

The electronic monitoring programme in the Cayman Islands was implemented in 2007 in the wake of the passage of the Alternative Sentencing Law 2006. – Photo: File

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