Governor Duncan Taylor took a playful swipe Tuesday at recent news coverage in the United Kingdom depicting several senior Merseyside Police officers as members of the ‘Snorkelling Squad’.
Merseyside Police Chief Constable Jon Murphy, Chief Superintendent Tony Doherty and other senior officers were photographed boating, snorkelling and enjoying themselves on Grand Cayman last week. Critical articles ran in the UK press indicating the officers brought down to assist Cayman police with issues of gang crime were on more of a vacation trip.
Mr. Taylor, addressing a group of highly-regarded attorneys and judges from the Caribbean, the US, Canada and the UK during the opening of an attorneys general conference, asked those in the audience to enjoy the Cayman Islands during their stay.
“You might want to do some snorkelling early in the morning or get on the beach,” Mr. Taylor said. “All I’d say is hold your tummy in, stand sideways.”
Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines, who himself has taken heat over photographs of the Merseyside commanders lounging on the beach and riding in a boat, said the governor took the right tone.
“His dismissive comment was very much that it’s a non-story,” Mr. Baines said. “You could just as easily run the same story [with the attorneys general conference]. They’re in the same hotel; they’ll be on the same beach. Actually, during downtime you would expect them to take advantage of being on this beach.”
Messrs. Murphy, Doherty and 18 other officers from northwest England were brought to Cayman on Commissioner Baines’ and Governor Taylor’s request – and at the expense of the Cayman Islands government – beginning on 3 October. Mr. Baines said the officers who will remain in Cayman for a six-week period will ride with RCIPS detectives and ensure evidence gathering and court presentations in recent murder and robbery cases are up to scratch.
The English officers are expected to remain here until at least mid-November, although Mr. Murphy left on Friday.
“What happened to Jon Murphy was totally unfair,” Mr. Baines said. “When we go again to ask for assistance, people will look at that and say ‘forget all that’ because it isn’t worth the reputational damage to individuals who came here, worked hard and tried their best for the Cayman Islands.”
Cayman has twice in the past two years gone to the UK to request investigative assistance after its force was swamped by a number of gang-related murders, first in March 2010 and again after five killings in nine days during September this year.
Mr. Baines said the first request involved 12 officers from West Midlands Police coming to Cayman for about four weeks to help exhausted local police run homicide investigations.
Although ‘not guilty’ verdicts were handed down in some recent murder trials stemming from the early 2010 violence, Mr. Baines said there were some positive effects from the West Midlands’ detectives assistance.
“We had virtually 12 months without a murder … regrettably, we’ve started again,” he said.