New RCIPS station site proposed by government
Although the Cayman Islands government once hoped to have new holding cells operational by June 2014, the site of the new modular detention building for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service in Fairbanks is still not in use.
Planning and building inspection delays for the site, which is eventually expected to replace the custody cells at the George Town and West Bay police stations, have so far prevented its use.
The police jails at the downtown police station were described in a United Kingdom inspector’s report as “barely fit for human habitation,” but they are still being used in some cases to hold people who are arrested, prior to their release or detention in Northward prison.
The new cells, which cost government US$2.1 million and can house up to 24 inmates, were constructed in Chicago, shipped to Cayman and moved into place near Fairbanks Prison in mid-April 2014.
Officials with the government Ministry of Home Affairs said at the time that they expected the units to be opened within six weeks – the beginning of June 2014 – but that did not happen.
The new cells are required, in part, to bring Cayman’s prisoner detention facilities in line with human rights legislation.
Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands government has announced plans to eventually shutter the current George Town Police Station, selling the land it sits on and moving the police station to what is envisioned as a law enforcement complex – including the courts – off Crewe Road.
It is not clear at this point whether prisoner detention facilities would be moved to that site as well, or kept in the Fairbanks area.
At this stage, no land has been sold. However, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts said Monday that the project is moving along and that government “would very much like” to sell to parcels of land totaling 1.7 acres at the site of the current police station and former vehicle licensing building on Elgin Avenue.
“Where the police station is now is perhaps the most valuable piece of property left in central George Town, and of course, the police really need new premises,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “We could dispose of that property because the police station doesn’t need to be in that location.”
Mr. Tibbetts said government owns several parcels of adjacent land near Jose’s gas station on Crewe Road which are being eyed for a new courts facility. However, the courts building itself would not need all that property, he said.
The idea is to sell the 1.7 acres where the police station sits in downtown, and to arrange with the buyer a leaseback for roughly two years so that the RCIPS could continue to occupy the building.
“The proceeds from the sale of the property could build exactly what the police would need for their new premises,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
During the police tenancy in the George Town Police Station, the modular cells in Fairbanks would still have to be used. However, they could be relocated to the Crewe Road site or abandoned in favor of purpose-built jail facilities.