An internal disciplinary review of all officers involved in the 2012 child abuse case was under way before the not guilty verdict being reached Thursday, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has confirmed.
The review includes supervisors at the police service, the RCIPS indicated. Asked Thursday whether any officers had been suspended or placed on desk duty over the investigation, a department spokesperson said: “Not at this time.”
A police service statement on the verdict sent a few hours after the court’s verdict noted the RCIPS “accepted the criticism of the police investigation” by Grand Court Justice Timothy Owen in delivering his judgment.
“We deeply regret the delays in the police investigation in this case and its outcome in terms of its potential impact on the victim,” the statement read. “We have extended our apology to the victim, who has demonstrated courage throughout this ordeal, especially given her age. We also apologize to the community at large.”
In addition to the internal review, RCIPS Superintendent Peter Lansdown will lead an audit of all child abuse investigations that are currently “open,” meaning those that are ongoing. [*]
Mr. Lansdown will direct the audit, seeking to determine whether the department had any “systemic failings” in the investigation of child abuse cases. The superintendent became chief of detective divisions at the RCIPS, including the Family Support Unit which handled the 2012 child abuse probe, in May 2016.
Police said Mr. Lansdown was “free of any conflicts” in conducting the audit, having never been employed with the local police service before May.
However, Governor Helen Kilpatrick would make the ultimate decision as to whether an outside investigation into the RCIPS’s handling of child abuse cases was required after she reviewed the police audit findings, police said.
The RCIPS commissioned two external assessments, in 2011 and 2013, aimed at improving its capacity to safeguard children through timely interventions and coordination with other agencies, the police statement noted. In the 2012 matter that was before the court Thursday, police said the victim was removed from the home when the abuse allegations came to light.
“We clarify this not to excuse in any way our handling of the investigation, but to reassure the community at the very least that investigative delays did not result in the exposure of the victim to further potential harm,” the RCIPS statement read. “Despite what the events in this particular case may suggest, the RCIPS is deeply committed to the protection of children and to seeking justice for those who have been subject to abuse.”
[*] Editor’s note: Story changed to reflect attribution to RCIPS statement.