Cayman Islands criminal suspects who have admitted to certain crimes may soon be allowed a “caution” under the law, rather than being charged and facing court for their alleged offense.

Police cautions have been used in the U.K. for decades and constitute a formal warning given to an adult offender who has already admitted to the crime of which they were accused.

Cayman Islands police have previously advocated for the same powers, but the proposed Cautions (Adults) Bill, 2017, represents the first time the measure is being brought to the Legislative Assembly. It is expected to be considered at the assembly’s next meeting, which begins on Feb. 22.

According to the text of the Cayman Islands bill: “Where a suspect has behaved in a manner that amounts to an offence and the suspect has admitted to so behaving, that suspect may be cautioned in accordance with this law, instead of being charged with, or prosecuted for, the offence …”

Under the proposed legislation, a caution is not considered a conviction, but it is placed on a person’s record and can be used against them in the event of a separate commission of crime.

The caution procedure is also not to be confused with a suspect’s right to be “interviewed under caution,” meaning advised of their constitutional rights prior to police interrogation.

A list of offenses considered “cautionable” under the bill include:

Theft/handling stolen goods – where the value of the goods stolen is no more than $5,000. Making off without payment is also a cautionable offense.

Criminal damage – where the value of the property damage does not exceed $3,000.

Assault causing actual bodily harm

Possession of a controlled drug that is not considered a “hard drug” under the Penal Code.

Causing fear or provocation of violence or intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress by night.

The bill sets specific restrictions on an officer’s right to caution a suspect for an offense, including that there is “sufficient evidence” to show a realistic chance of conviction. The suspect also must “unequivocally” admit their guilt.

The “cautionable” offense must only be issued in cases where the maximum prison sentence is less than four years.

A suspect cannot be cautioned for an offense if they have been convicted in the past three years for a similar offense. Also, if the person is out on police bail, or serving a prison sentence, or had been released on parole they cannot be cautioned for an offense. Those individuals would have to be prosecuted.

The bill requires the commissioner to report to the Legislative Assembly each year, stating how many individuals have been cautioned and for which offenses.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Cayman’s legislators seem to be losing the plot; what on earth are they hoping to achieve with this law ?

    Police cautions, as used in the UK, are issued by police for very minor offenses such as anti-social behaviour, littering, and other offenses where it is deemed to save court time and costs and give offenders a chance to correct their behaviour.

    They are NOT used for major criminal offenses such as handling stolen property, assault and some of the other offenses listed here.

    One of the benchmarks for issuing cautions in the UK is the sentencing guidelines for offenses that would be dealt with by prosecution in court; if it is an offense for which one could and would be sent to prison automatically, it is NOT a cautionable offense.

    One offense for which cautions are issued and a fixed-penalty fine (a ticket), is the possession of marijuana in small quantities for personal use; this would be useful in Cayman.

    If this law is passed, Cayman’s law-makers just upped the serious crime rate 100%.

    Guaranteed.

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  2. This is a jaw dropping news.
    Who is behind this crime promoting, lawless society fostering and tourists deterring bill?
    May be in Hong Kong, may be in the UK, but not in the Cayman Island. Different mentality, different attitude toward law, police and crime.
    I truly hope that certain crimes may soon be NOT allowed a “caution”.

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  3. While I agree with a certain kind of offenses that could be cautioned for the first time warning . But I don’t see any of those in the article.

    I think that the government need to be very careful in drafting legislation on this , because if this is not done correctly all kind of things could come from it .

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  4. @ Ricardo Tatum

    I know you’ve spent a lot of time in the UK and I respect your exposure to how things work over there but I can tell you from personal experience working alongside the police in the UK that Police Cautions (now being referred to as Simple Cautions as opposed to Conditional Cautions), which are normally decided by a duty Inspector, are handed out for crimes like handling stolen property, minor assaults, criminal damage, possession of drugs, possession of offensive weapons and theft including TWOK . In fact one of the widespread criticisms of the whole cautions system is that it’s open to abuse. In busy areas it’s always very tempting to offer the offender, quite often a repeat offender, the option of taking a caution to avoid being charged for an offence simply because it saves police time and resources.

    MoJ Guidance states that simple cautions are available for any offence although careful consideration should be given to the seriousness of the offence. Even ‘indictable only’ offences may be disposed with a caution subject to CPS approval. It’s a very wide-ranging option.

    In 2015 Parliament reported that 30% of ‘out-of-court disposals’ (cautions and on-the-spot fines) were applied inappropriately with crimes including sexual assault being dealt with in this way. There’s also been as issue about whether innocent people are being pressurised into taking a caution, which is a tacit admission of guilt, to avoid the risk of being taken to court for crimes they never committed.

    When you look RCIPS track record in recent months you do have to wonder just how this proposed legislation will be handled if it becomes law. Will some be let off because of who they are or who they know whilst others will still end up in court because they don’t have the right connections? Who will oversee it and make sure it’s applied fairly?

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  5. David Williams

    Thanks for filling in the missing pieces for me.

    You’ve only highlighted why implementing this law in the Cayman Islands is a very dangerous thing to do.

    Even in the UK, it does not work and in the Cayman Islands, will be almost ‘legalising’ or watering down some of the most serious, problematic crimes that plagues the Cayman Islands ?

    Eg…if the ‘fences’ are given a slap on the wrist…what do you think will happen with the burglary rate in Cayman, the most prevalent crime that exists at the moment.

    How many more people will have their homes broken into and their possessions stolen ?

    What will this do to all the efforts at rehabilitating drug addicts, who commit the majority of burglaries in Cayman, when they can freely sell their ill-gotten goods to fences who have no fear of going to jail themselves for handling stolen goods ?

    Thank you for providing more details to the readers on how this law has impacted the UK.

    Let them decide for themselves, whether this is a law that the Cayman Islands should even consider passing.

    What the politicians in Cayman are doing now has only made my decision to permanently reside in the United Kingdom years ago….a very very good one.

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    • This is like extending the famous “blanket immunity” to criminals in this country.
      How about victims of crime? What about businesses that will see an increase in “Making off without payment”? What they are left with? Should they just suck it up?

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      • L. Bell

        I’m just back from a trip to somewhere in the USA where CCW (concealed carry weapons) is a way of life and, at the risk of being labelled an extremist, that’s the solution. When the situation is, ‘If you come on my property and try to rob me I will shoot you dead!’ it tends to control crime rather well. Don’t think RCIPS would like it but if they adopt this nonsense you might as well disband the police force and revert to vigilante justice anyway.

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  6. No problem with minor crimes being cautioned: for example speeding, running red light, littering, possession of small amount of ganja for personal use etc.

    But fencing stolen property, theft, violent crimes? NO!! If anything we need to adopt the ‘broken window” policy of New York of following up on even minor crimes and prosecuting. Young people learn quickly and if they find they can g with small crimes they soon move up to bigger ones.

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