Shortly after 22 May, the way the Cayman Islands government handles its public safety budgets, including funding for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, could change in a small, yet significant way.
According to Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, those changes could give an elected member of the Legislative Assembly unprecedented input into the police service’s annual spending plan.
The 2009 Constitution Order added two new ministerial posts to the country’s current roster of five. Those two new government ministers won’t be added, however, until after the 22 May general election. It is envisioned that one of those two ministers will serve as the “Home Affairs Minister” or “Minister for Public Safety”, as the position is referred to in other jurisdictions. The exact title hasn’t been worked out yet.
At the moment, the deputy governor [formerly the Cayman Islands chief secretary] oversees the annual budget for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. Overall responsibility for policing in the Cayman Islands will remain with the British-appointed governor of the territory, in any event. However, the subtle shift in responsibilities contained in the Constitution is likely to mean that the deputy governor hands the purse strings for police over to whatever elected member of the Legislative Assembly is given the “home affairs” role.
Deputy Governor Manderson said it will ultimately be up to the next government, in consultation with himself and Governor Duncan Taylor, to work out what ministry assignments will be and what is left to the civil service and the governor’s remit.
“At the end of the day, it’s a decision for the governor and the premier and his ministers in what they select,” Mr. Manderson said.
It’s something the civil service is now trying to work out as part of its Project 1 wholesale review of government departments, said Peter Gough, special assistant to the deputy governor.
“Should all uniform services be under the same ministry, are there synergies there?” Mr. Gough asks. “Should immigration and customs be in the same ministry, for example? It’s something we need to review.”
“Police will still remain with the governor,” Mr. Manderson said. “But you could have a minister being [directly] responsible for the police budget.”
The Legislative Assembly approves all expenses made by the government, police and other law enforcement budgets included. However, right now, elected ministers do not get directly involved in the internal workings of processing those expenditures, other than in the assembly’s Finance Committee where budget line-items are reviewed. Mr. Manderson and his chief officer at the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, Eric Bush, perform that role now. “In the LA, I am responsible for the Portfolio of Internal and External affairs and the civil service. You could very well have those duties taken away from me. I would keep the civil service, for example, and then everything under the portfolio … would be under a minister, to include the police budget,” Mr. Manderson said. In that scenario, Eric Bush, the chief officer, would report directly to an elected minister, rather than Mr. Manderson as the deputy governor.
The ministerial change was one of a number of revisions made in the 2009 Constitution Order that sought to limit the UK-appointed governor’s power or delegated powers.
One of the key changes already in effect, the appointment of a National Security Council, does dilute – to some extent – the governor’s decision-making powers with regard to policing strategies.
The National Security Council consists of the governor, the premier, two other elected ministers appointed by the governor in consultation with the premier, the leader of the opposition or their designee, and two other members of civil society appointed by the governor after consultation with the premier. The deputy governor, police commissioner and the attorney general are on the body as non-voting members.