The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has set out public guidelines for its officers in dealing with the news media at crime scenes, vehicle accidents or during police investigations.
The guidelines under Commissioner David Baines are quite similar to a policy issued in April 2008 by then-Acting Commissioner David George with a few changes.
In general, both documents allow media representatives to “get as close as possible to the actual scene without interfering with the lawful duties of police officers”. However, an updated policy provided to the Caymanian Compass by the police service on Wednesday adds the following statement that was not in the previous media policy: “If there is a danger or risk of jeopardising the investigation, media will not be allowed into the occurrence area until the danger or risk has been removed.”
Both policies state that police officers “shall not” impede members of the media, provided that those media members themselves do not violate the law or directly interfere with an investigation.
Police will not facilitate a media member’s access onto private property, according to both the 2008 and the current police-media policy.
Also the updated media policy states that officers “will not discourage” photography of a suspect in public places but that they also “shall not deliberately make suspects in custody pose for the media”.
As with the older policy, police state that the media will not be asked to relinquish notes, film, cameras, recording devices or tapes to officers. Such materials can be obtained by court order, if they are considered to be of value to an investigation.
“The RCIPS cannot censor the media,” the updated policy states. “However, if there are pictures taken or information is obtained that may adversely affect an investigation or prosecution, a request through the public relations officer to the appropriate editor(s) asking to withhold the publication of the pictures or information will be made forthwith.”
Another addition to the updated police media policy states that the media “shall not be advised in advance of special operations or the execution of search or arrest warrants” without the express permission of the most senior level command staff at the police service.