As criminals get more sophisticated in their approach to breaking laws, those in the criminal justice system have to up their game to catch them.
At the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, newly confirmed DPP Patrick Moran is leading the charge to help make that happen.
“I hope not only to secure more lawyers, but also to secure more training for our lawyers on top of that,” Moran said as he sat down the Cayman Compass recently to discuss his plans.
He was confirmed as DPP late November after serving as deputy DPP from 2015 to 2018, and then acting DPP from 2018 until his confirmation.
Focus on training
Moran said his focus will be on training his team and equipping law enforcement with investigatory tools to uphold justice in the courts.
“Last year, our lawyers attended numerous training sessions particularly relating to financial crime, money laundering, and terrorist financing. We have a very strong focus on that right now,” he explained.
He said criminals are becoming more sophisticated and, as a result, law enforcement has to become more sophisticated.
“Cases are becoming more complicated, and the volume of evidence is becoming bigger – particularly digital evidence. The overseas territories digital hub opened here and we should be so proud to have it on island. That is likely to generate higher volumes of digital evidence, which itself requires broader skill sets for investigators and prosecutors,” Moran said.
The digital hub, which opened last month, is a project that is co-funded by the United Kingdom National Crime Agency, and will be used to help safeguard children from child sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as to combat various other forms of cybercrime, which are not restricted by borders.
Moran said the hub will be an asset for investigators, but it also brings with it a bigger caseload.
“Crime is becoming more complex. Even simple crimes can have a digital context, which can lead to an increase in the size of our files. I hope very much that the recent increase to our budget will stand us in good stead as we move on to fighting more sophisticated crime,” he said.
A total of $6.8 million has been allocated to the DPP’s office over the next two-year budget cycle for prosecutions and victim support.
Moran said the resources will be used to enhance the office’s abilities and recruit more lawyers to help with the workload which he said is increasing.
“Another thing that people may not realise is that the regular workload doesn’t go away; simple matters like a drug-dealing case or a case involving violence, that is a constant, but what is increasing is the complexity of some of our cases, especially those involving multiple defendants, or financial crime cases,” he said.
More than prosecuting
Moran said a key part of his office’s function focusses on training of new police officers, as well as other investigative agencies, which at times can be a strain on his limited personnel.
At present, the office has 25 permanent members of staff, 16 of whom are qualified lawyers.
“We are the sole prosecutor on the island, and so we do a lot of behind the scenes. We’re trying to assist law-enforcement agencies from the investigation stage and they’re a lot more enforcement agencies than just the police,” he said.
He said the team tries to get involved at an early stage of investigations as well, so that the quality of case work and investigations is enhanced.
“We are doing a huge amount of work in the fight against international money laundering, and other forms of financial crime, such as terrorist financing and proliferation financing.
Several members of our team sit on various working groups to enhance our ability to ensure that dirty money does not wash through these islands,” he said. “That’s a huge responsibility. Some of our team also sit on international working groups dealing with financial crime. What we do at our office is much more than what can be seen in court.”
Managing public perceptions
Moran said the role of a prosecutor is not an easy one, but it is a necessary one, as it is needed to ensure justice prevails.
He said he suspects people may not see prosecutors as human beings because of the effects of prosecution, but he assures the impact of the job they do is very real to them.
“If a case results in a conviction, that’s not a source of pleasure, and there is no celebration in this office. A conviction simply shows that the criminal justice system is working as it should. That is a relief, not a success,” he said.
Those at the office, he said, are not measured by success, but by playing a part in the criminal justice system which should work as expected.
“We are dealing with people who have done some very bad things. We deal with people when they’re at their worst, and we deal with people when they are at their weakest. We see a very different side of life, a side which most people are fortunate not to know,” he added.