Cayman had affected the way they live.
Started in 2005, the Compass online poll has never been a scientific survey, and no doubt there’s a large margin of error. However, we have found that the poll does track public opinion fairly well, especially in the tenor of the comments left by respondents.
The results of last week’s poll caught even our critical eye, in that crime has apparently affected the way such a large percentage of Grand Cayman residents live their daily lives. Even more revealing than the objective numbers was the palpable fear conveyed in the language of so many respondents.
Many respondents spoke about the precautions they are now taking – locking doors, installing alarm systems and additional lighting, getting dogs and just being more aware of their surroundings. Respondents also reported several other ways they’re trying to avoid becoming victims of crime, including not wearing valuable jewelry out at nights, avoiding certain places, using credit and debit cards instead of cash, and not picking up hitchhikers.
All of that is probably good advice these days, and it’s the way people in big cities live in many places of the world. However, it’s not the way we’re accustomed to living in the Cayman Islands.
Even more disturbing than the comments about the precautions people are taking were the descriptions of how crime was affecting the way residents think and live their lives.
People are now suspicious of anyone they don’t know, and parents are teaching children to “trust no one.” Several respondents talked about being afraid to leave their homes at night, giving up evening walks and staying locked in their homes with the windows shut tight.
But what came through most was the fear many now feel living on Grand Cayman and how it is diminishing their quality of life.
The Cayman Islands relies on its financial services and tourism industries for its economic well-being. Crime can affect both industries, particularly tourism. One huge differentiator Cayman has enjoyed over its regional competition has always been its low levels of crime. If that differentiator erodes or disappears, then the Cayman Islands will face hardship like it has never known.
For weeks now, employment issues have dominated the radio talk shows, online forums and the debate in the Legislative Assembly. We suggest that everyone read the story that appears on Page 9 and ask themselves if, as a matter of urgency, the main topic of discourse needs to change.
To borrow one of Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush’s favorite metaphors, making the unemployment issue the most important topic of conversation is like fighting fire ants while being trampled by elephants.
By many measures, crime may be the biggest elephant the Cayman Islands is currently facing.