Police: Liquor law 'inadequate' to deal with problem bars

The law that regulates liquor licensed premises on Grand Cayman is inadequate in regard to a myriad of criminal offenses and “anti-social behaviors” that can occur in the vicinity around bars and nightclubs, a statement from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Monday indicates.

The general response from the police came after the Cayman Compass asked about reports circulating the islands that prostitution was occurring at one George Town bar typically considered a “hot spot” by the RCIPS.

The police service indicated it was looking into those reports, along with the Cayman Islands Immigration Department, but could not confirm whether any prostitution had happened inside the business.

In June, the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman ended the probation period it had placed on two other local bars for more than a year due to problems at those locations.

Police reports indicated things had calmed down at Archie’s on Shedden Road since a mid-morning police raid in 2013 uncovered illegal gambling operations there.

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Probation was also lifted during the same meeting for East End’s Pirates Cove bar. However, RCIPS Chief Inspector Claudia Brady said that three months prior to probation being lifted, the bar still had trouble “around its premises,” including an assault that sent one victim off island for medical treatment last month.

Representatives of the bar told the liquor board that violent incidents were largely occurring in areas outside the premises, and that they could not control them, but Chief Inspector Brady said the bar was still considered a “hot spot” – or trouble spot – by police.

“[Problem] businesses often have their licenses reinstated because the Liquor License Law restricts the premises of the establishment to mean the buildings of these businesses themselves and not the parking lot or other contiguous area where the majority of offenses occur,” Superintendent Angelique Howell said Monday. “We have attempted prosecution of liquor licenses holders in the past, but these prosecutions were not successful due to this restrictive definition.

“Until the law is amended, the holders of these liquor licenses will most likely not be prosecuted for [any] offenses.”

In the meantime, Superintendent Howell said police are dealing with clubs known to have problems by carrying out weekend raids and random nightly checks, particularly around closing time.

In December, police were congratulated by Liquor Licensing Board members for their response to reports of criminal activity outside clubs and other businesses at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach.

“The police should be commended for the job they’re doing out there,” said board member Bernice Richards. “The response is very good. You’re not having to wait like before.”

Chief Inspector Brady told board members that police have focused more resources in the downtown and West Bay Road areas, particularly on routine foot patrols, since a series of business robberies occurred in October 2014. However, the department’s staffing and budget is not unlimited, she said.

“How long we can sustain that is another question,” she said.

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