Police are crediting the arrest and imprisonment of a significant number of prolific offenders with causing a sharp drop in the burglary rate across the Cayman Islands.
There were 390 burglaries in the territory last year, compared with 595 in 2017, according to a comprehensive crime statistics report published Wednesday by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
Detectives said 40 people were brought before the courts on burglary charges in 2018. Among them were several known repeat offenders with a record of committing multiple burglaries.
Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said, “We did have some significant arrests during the year. We have prolific recidivist offenders operating and they have been targeted by our crime task force and our Criminal Investigations Department with good success.”
He acknowledged the burglary rate could fluctuate as high-profile offenders move in and out of prison, but said his officers were working hard to target repeat offenders and reduce the number of break-ins at homes and businesses.
Police also believe new community officers and a fast-growing network of neighbourhood watch schemes have helped impact the burglary rate.
Bodden Town, which was one of the worst-affected areas for burglaries in 2017, saw the biggest decrease. There were 67 break-ins in the district in 2018 compared with 157 the previous year.
The crime stats, which cover every offence committed in the Cayman Islands in 2018, show a number of interesting trends:
- The burglary rate has hit an 18-year low.
- Referrals to police in domestic abuse cases have quadrupled since 2015.
- There were six major drug hauls last year, with a total of $1.125 million of ganja seized.
- More than 2,000 speeding tickets were issued last year, more than triple the previous year.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday afternoon Byrne said the overall picture of crime in the Cayman Islands was relatively good.
He said, “The number of serious crimes is, relatively speaking, very small. There is pretty good news all around. We would obviously prefer if we had no crime, but the figures are manageable in terms of the jurisdiction we are in.”
He added that police were now adequately resourced and would be hoping to make further inroads.
“There is lots more to be done obviously, and we won’t take our foot off the pedal,” he added.
Child safeguarding and domestic violence
There was a sharp increase of reports involving domestic violence or child safety issues that were referred to police in 2018.
There were 2,218 reported cases involving allegations of domestic violence, ranging from threats to kill to physical assaults, referred to police last year, compared with less than 1,000 the previous year.
There was also 747 cases referred to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub – up from 491 the previous year. That includes 67 reports involving alleged sexual abuse of a child.
Police say the increase could be attributed to outreach from the MASH unit and training for frontline officers and other partners to improve the referrals process when incidents involving child protection are involved.
The report also indicates a massive increase in traffic enforcement.
The number of people caught speeding in 2018 is more than triple what it was in 2017, rising from 652 tickets to 2,128 in the space of just 12 months.
The number of people caught drunk driving also rose, from 253 to 328, while almost every other category of traffic offence saw significant increases. In all, the total traffic offences recorded rose from 4,980 to 7,437.
Police say this is part of a deliberate strategy aimed at making Cayman’s roads safer.
Byrne said that approach would continue.
“There is an awful lot of traffic on the road,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of intemperate habits and some really bad driving, so the detections have been upped in 2018 and our focus is to continue with that enforcement strategy.”
Police highlighted a 14% drop in road collisions as evidence that the policy is paying off.
Despite that dip, there was an increase in fatal accidents. Eight people were killed on Cayman’s roads last year in eight separate collisions. In 2017, six people were killed on the islands’ roads in three incidents, including one crash in East End which claimed the lives of four people.
The statistics report suggests the relaunch of the traffic and roads policing unit, staff increases and the introduction of new radar equipment have had a big impact on the roads.
“This new resourcing had a clear and positive impact on the overall level of enforcement taking place around the islands,” the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said in the report. “It also appears to be reflected in the gradual decrease in collisions across all categories in the quarterly numbers throughout the year, as the effect of this intensified enforcement and visibility took hold.”
Police added that such enforcement may need to be combined with other initiatives to reduce the most dangerous type of behaviour on the road and cut fatal collisions.
Overall, police logged a total of 3,453 crimes in 2018 – a decrease of 3% on the previous year. Of those, 1,335 were classed as ‘serious crimes’, which includes murder, rape, robbery, assault and burglary.
There were six major drug hauls in Cayman’s waters in 2018 resulting in the seizure of 2,250 pounds of ganja, 24 arrests, and the recovery of two illegal firearms. The value of the drugs seized is estimated at $1,125,000.