I am disappointed that Ms Williams, the complaints commissioner, has stepped back from the issue of complaints against the police.
In my letters to you on this subject (in February 2009 and 2012) I have advocated the complaints commissioner taking over the role overseeing these complaints.
I agree that her office, at the moment, is not equipped with the staff or the legislative framework in which to operate but I do not think this as being insurmountable.
What is required is the introduction of an element of independence into the system. I am certainly not calling for Ms William’s office to investigate these complaints. Regardless of her previous role with the UK IPCC she does not have the skills and procedural knowledge required to undertake these but she does have the ability to bring the independence needed.
This independence would be in three ways:
For low level complaints the RCIPS would both manage and investigate the complaint. The complainant could then appeal to the overseer if they did not agree with the outcome or felt that the procedure had not been properly carried out.
For more serious complaints the RCIPS would again investigate but the overseer would actively manage the process to ensure it was properly conducted.
In the most serious of cases the overseer would arrange for an independent investigation by an outside organisation.
In all cases the overseer would be notified of all complaints as they were made and provided with details of the outcome.
However, the first thing that needs to be established is the level and severity of the complaints being made. There is little if any statistics coming through to indicate the number of complaints received each year or the type of complaints they relate to. Therefore a proper scoping exercise needs to be carried out.
The overseer needs to establish what legislative changes might be needed to empower both them to manage the complaints and for any outside body to operate an effective investigation in the Cayman Islands jurisdiction.
Once we know the level of complaints and we have established the legislative framework required, then the governor, as the person responsible for law and order, and the government can decide who is best placed to take on the role of the overseer, begin the process of bringing in the legislative changes needed and hire the few extra staff, skilled and knowledgeable in police complaints and investigation. It is in the interest of both the RCIPS and the residents and visitors to the Islands that this is done swiftly.
Senior lecturer in policing, investigation and criminology