Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick said much has been made in recent press reports about the Cayman Islands having 400 police officers to cover a three-island chain with somewhere around 55,000 residents.
The numbers, the governor said last week, don’t tell the whole story.
“When you get to this numbers game, saying Cayman has ’X’ number of policemen and ‘X’ number of people, you’ve got to be careful to compare like with like,” Ms Kilpatrick said. “[The police] do immigration functions, they do licensing functions … they do everything.
“One of the things that can make a difference to efficiency and effectiveness is to make sure the trained and qualified police officers are only doing work that trained and qualified police officers need to do and that other work is done by less experienced people.”
It’s a sentiment recently echoed by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s chief of operations, Chief Superintendent Kurt Walton.
“There’s this perception that … we have 396 or 400 police officers and what are they doing? You need to appreciate the demands on the police service,” Mr. Walton said. “We don’t just have 400 officers in police cars. There’s intelligence units, there’s the marine unit, there’s legislation that mandates us to have units such as security/firearms licensing. We manage tobacco legislation, now we’ve been asked to manage the most recent legislation, the secondhand dealers bill [to regulate pawn shops].
“We’re expected to be a coast guard. We are the defense force – the police force of the Cayman Islands.”
Governor Kilpatrick said she and RCIPS Commissioner David Baines have discussed – in the medium term – reassignment of a number of police officers from certain specialist units.
“[We need to] make sure that all the officers who can be are freed up to actually work on policing activity rather than activities that could be undertaken by less qualified people,” Ms Kilpatrick said.
For the first time in three years, RCIPS crime statistics have shown a rise in both serious and volume crimes – that’s for the first nine months of 2013.
The statistics, compiled from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, reveal a 15 percent increase in overall crime when compared with the same period of 2012 and a 33.6 percent increase in what the RCIPS considers “serious crime.”
The rise in crime is being driven largely by a huge increase in burglaries since the start of the year. According to police records, there have been 540 break-ins reported this year, through Sept. 30.
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2012, the three islands reported 370 burglaries. That’s a more than 45 percent increase in burglaries between the two years.
Another major area of concern was robberies, a crime that saw a sharp decline during 2012. Through Sept. 30 this year, 38 robberies were reported, compared to 30 reported as of Sept. 30, 2012. That’s nearly a 27 percent increase in robberies for the first nine months of the year.
The recent spike in armed robberies and shootings since late August has caused Premier Alden McLaughlin to publicly declare that Cayman “is not what it was.”
Governor Kilpatrick cautioned that the police, while playing a critical role in law enforcement, were not “the whole issue to deal with crime.”
“There are issues around people’s upbringing in society, their attitudes, particularly I’m afraid young males,” she said. “There are issues about what happens to people after they’ve been arrested and how long it takes to bring them to justice.
“What happens in the prison is vitally important.”
To that end, Prisons Director Neil Lavis had instituted a new policy requiring inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison, Northward to either spend their time productively, or spend it behind bars.
“They’re not allowed to just hang around all day, they’ve got to be doing something or they’re locked up,” the governor said.
Deputy Prisons Director Aduke Joseph-Caesar said the policy sets specific day-time work hours for inmates, between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and again between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. A variety of job training, literacy and education courses and physical exercise options are available for prisoners as part of an extensive sentence management program at Northward.
Mrs. Joseph-Caesar said the prisons system has identified nine “pathways” which, if addressed correctly can reduce reoffending. The pathways include proper housing, employment and education, health, elimination of drug and alcohol abuse and support from their families.
In addition, financial problems, especially debt, can lead to reoffending, and changes in a prisoner’s attitude are generally required. For women, there are particular concerns if she has been affected by abuse or if she has been involved in prostitution.
“Research found that most offenders have a number of complex issues, i.e. drug and alcohol misuse, financial exclusion, temporary accommodation, homelessness, chaotic lifestyle, separation from children and families, domestic violence and abuse are contributing factors to their re-offending,” the prison overview of the pathways stated.