Baines: Government should consider seizing uninsured cars


Tinted windows, unregistered vehicles and covered license plates should all come under stricter local legislation, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner David Baines told lawmakers in the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee last week. 

“You might want to think about where cars are uninsured, and not couponed, they become forfeit and disposable under the law and you’ll see a significant change,” Mr. Baines said. 

Both government backbench MLA Anthony Eden and independent opposition MLA Ezzard Miller voiced separate concerns during the committee’s debate on the police budget about traffic safety and neighborhood nuisances on the roads. 

“People drive like mad people,” Mr. Eden said. “I’m doing, like, 40, 41, 42 [miles per hour] and they’re crossing me like they’re standing still,” Mr. Eden said. 

Mr. Miller said, in his district of North Side, it seems as though the same “half-dozen” people are committing the same traffic offenses almost on a daily basis. 

“Noboby seems to be able to get any control over these people,” Mr. Miller said. “The tint on the windows, the same thing happen[s]. Do we need to amend the Traffic Law to say, after a number of offenses, repeat offenses such as tint and mufflers, we confiscate the car?” 

“That will sort it out,” Commissioner Baines said. 

In addition, the commissioner said government should consider denying import and business licenses for companies who put tint on car windows, other than those legitimately authorized to do so. He also suggested that the sale of license plate covers, which can prevent police officers from seeing the number plate of an offending vehicle, should be banned. 

“[Tint and covered number plates] are adding to our issues,” Mr. Baines said. “We fill bins with enforcement and they go and buy another one.” 

Mr. Eden questioned whether, since the effective elimination of the RCIPS Traffic Enforcement Unit during the government’s 2010/11 budget year, officers were able to keep up with these issues. Statistics released by the RCIPS have shown a sharp drop in the overall number of traffic citations between 2010 and 2014. The numbers started trending back up this year. 

“[We] fully understand the frustration and also the added danger,” Mr. Baines said. “We have been raising programs of enforcement activity … we routinely do between 550 and 560 traffic enforcement tickets a month.” 

To help alleviate officers’ workload, Mr. Baines said the RCIPS has begun traffic enforcement efforts with the special constabulary. Special constables are unpaid, volunteer officers who work in certain capacities with the police. 

Mr. Baines said the special constabulary unit would focus on traffic issues such as covered license plates, tinted windows and speeding. 

Mr. Baines


Tinted windows like those on this car have drawn the ire of legislators and the police commissioner. – Photo: Chris Court


  1. Why was the RCIPS Traffic Enforcement Unit effectively eliminated during the government’s 2010/11 budget year?

    Traffic enforcement is a very important function of any police service and it would seem that the solution to these problems is to have a functioning traffic enforcement unit. We also need to look at how we are using the existing CCTV systems as it was always my belief that a properly designed CCTV system should be able to help the police get these types of issues under control.

  2. CCTV is virtually useless at enforcing traffic regulations. Think of all the potential offences – no documents / insurance, using mobile phones when driving, speeding, dangerous driving, and, especially drink driving – how many of these are detectable via CCTV? Even if the CCTV was permanently viewed. It is officers on patrol / on the ground who do this.
    Road accidents cause more deaths and serious injuries than any other events and the only way to deal with them is through both a dedicated traffic unit (not one relying on Special Constables – as much as their help is useful) and from having officers on patrol.
    But to take Commissioner Baines’ point – if cars were seized and, following conviction, the courts ordered destruction of the vehicles, I would suggest it wouldn’t be long before those who don’t want to comply in keeping us all safe will get the message – just need officers out there detecting the offences in the first place.

  3. Could also consider requiring a mandatory search of the vehicle for the ”tint” and number plate violations.

    At present officers need a reasonable cause – but statutarily requiring it might help take that pressure off them.
    The offences do infer that those individuals have something to hide?

  4. John makes a good point, the motorway cameras in the UK are effective for such issues ONLY BECAUSE they are linked to number plate readers, cross referenced to the Licencing department computer database.

    The insurers have to notify the licencing department as insurance is issued, cancelled, expires or is transferred.
    Ditto for vehicle inspections.
    The licencing department knows if the ticket is paid too.

    Drive past and in real time, officers in the vicinity know the make model and licence plate and what offence is commited even before they get out of the patrol car.

    This has been so effective that the physical paper ticket (”tax disk”) has now been discontinued.