EDITORIAL – Priority No. 1: Keeping our beaches inviting and safe

Attention please: We want to state at the beginning of this editorial that we are aware of, and are enormously proud of, the fact that Cayman has some of the most beautiful – and safe and secure – beaches in the world. We have advised, both privately and publicly, the Department of Tourism to do nothing more in its promotions than obtain a stunning photograph of Seven Mile Beach (we have dozens in our own archives which we would be delighted to donate) and use it for promotion purposes worldwide, along with a quote from U.S. News & World Report, which proclaimed SMB as “The No. 1 Beach in the World.” How can one possibly improve upon that?

And so, this editorial is not in any way to speak disparagingly about our beaches. Quite the opposite. They are THE attraction for our visiting families and our permanent residents.

Therefore, like many of our readers, we have been disturbed by stories in recent days that recount a spate of crimes, including purse-snatchings and drug use (not to mention rowdy behavior) on our public beaches.

This cannot continue. We must not allow our public beaches (and by extension our country) to be compromised by a small number of petty thieves and antisocial malcontents.

To date, we must confess, we are singularly unimpressed by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s response – and our politicians’ non-responses (with the notable exception of Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell) – to this overriding issue.

To the RCIPS, this needs to be your Number One Priority: You MUST safeguard our beaches.

To Commissioner Derek Byrne, you MUST NOT allow the Cayman Islands to lose their irretrievable reputation for safety and security – especially our crown jewels, our public beaches – on your watch.

In the digital age in which we all live, a single incident on a single public beach can travel around the world – and back – with a stopover on TripAdvisor within seconds. The old rules no longer apply.

And yet, following those aforementioned incidents at Seven Mile Beach, including Public Beach, Governor’s Beach and Cemetery Beach (plus an incident at Smith Cove), here was the advice, verbatim, from the police:

  • Try to have at least one person stay onshore with belongings when swimming.
  • If alone, consider purchasing a waterproof pouch in which you can place your keys and wallet, and take in the water.
  • Leave valuables locked in your vehicle whenever possible (out of sight).

Previously, the Commissioner also spoke about acquiring some “quad bikes” and a couple of “drug dogs” to patrol our beaches.

With all due respect, this anemic response is not even close to the existential nature of the threat to our island. Our beaches must be – and be perceived to be – 100 percent safe, secure and welcoming.

To achieve such a goal will require a highly thoughtful, perhaps highly costly, strategic plan that must include input from all relevant sectors – first and foremost, of course, the police, but also prosecutors and judges, government ministries and tourism associations, and, most importantly, all of us in the Cayman Islands.

“Leave valuables locked in your vehicle whenever possible (out of sight)?”

Not even close. D-Minus.

1 COMMENT

  1. Without belaboring the subject, pictures very often belie the real truth. The real story is that our beaches with the exception of SMB, needs extreme man power continuously to maintain a decorum of cleanliness. As for the thefts, robberies and other crimes, on this island, speak to the victims of these awful incidents. Social media can destroy a person, place and thing. We want the world to know that Grand Cayman and her sister islands are the most beautiful places to visit and stay, and that our island is the safest in the Caribbean.

  2. Please take an aerial photo of one of the most beautiful beach in the world and don’t crop the Dump out of it. Otherwise it looks like a false advertising.

    As for the beach thieves, it is not RCIPS, but beach goers who must safeguard their assets. Crime of opportunity exists everywhere.
    No need to tell the Commissioner in capital letters what he needs to do. It is disrespectful, to say the least.

    In this country people care more LGBT issues than about crime prevention.
    Who from the current administration has responded to the former government social worker Michael Myles call for a more proactive approach to tackling the causes of crime at an earlier stage, to intervene with vulnerable children and young people before they go off the rails? NOBODY as far as I know.
    This is #1 Priority, followed by the Dump.

    Some editorials are excellent, while others, like this one, look like they were written by a middle school student. Strangely, they always relate to the DoT agenda.

  3. Here we go again. Another identified crisis that is only a symptom of a much, much bigger issue.
    Beach thefts? More police. Overfilled prisons? Build more jails. Gun crimes on the rise? Petty crime and thefts? Overall erosion of respect and safety in our society? Qualified teachers fleeing en masse from schools? Each problem has its own micro solution, but the problems are going to keep coming.
    When are we going to put these symptoms together and confront the source of the problem?
    The police, regardless of your opinion of their ability, are never going to be effective if laws and policies are ineffective or lack integrity.
    Moreover, until there is a significant shift in grassroots education, an alignment of priorities from every corner of the island, and restoring a culture of respect and accountability, Cayman is in peril of further detonation.
    The government needs to invest in building the values and identity of Cayman from within and focus less on the travel pamphlet.

  4. Mr. Norton, there wouldn’t be a CAYMAN without the tourist industry. Why don’t you become instrumental and change the laws you feel are insufficient. Go for it. Respect, accountability and values have all but disappeared. In the meantime, we need a more experienced police force, who are availed of the latest weaponry to protect themselves and the citizens. We hardly have petty crime and theft. Try robberies, murder, and stabbings.

    • @Lukishi Brown
      You are misinformed.

      Please read this Compass article.
      “Financial services industry: Cayman’s ‘invisible’ giant”

      “..for every dollar they spend on financial services, they roughly receive around $18 from financial services. Comparably with tourism, they receive less than $2 in revenue,” …

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