While Cayman recorded less than a 1% increase in the total number of crimes reported last year compared to 2018, certain offences such as sex crimes and traffic violations were on the rise, according to the latest annual statistics issued by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne, in his statement on the statistics released on Tuesday, said, “Total volumes of crime have increased by less than 1%. This marginal increase in crime in 2019 is indicative of a growing willingness on behalf of victims to report and the commitment of the RCIPS to investigate crimes which in the past went unreported.”
He also noted that the number of murders, rapes, robberies and burglaries recorded in 2019 “were at their lowest levels in the past five years”.
However, traffic offences in the Cayman Islands increased by almost 50% last year compared to 2018, with officers issuing 3,094 speeding tickets in 2019.
Cayman also saw a 29% increase in overall sex crimes last year compared to 2018. These included 21 reports of indecent assaults on a female – an increase of 84% compared to 2018 statistics.
“Increased reporting and awareness of sexual crimes allows better understanding of sexual crimes,” the report stated, adding that the increased recording of such offences enables police to help prevent and deter those crimes, “as well as to catch and convict offenders and support victims”.
With the advent of the coronavirus crisis, crime levels in the Cayman Islands in the past two-and-a-half months have dropped dramatically, the commissioner said at a COVID-19 press briefing on 29 May, when he reported that overall crime, excluding curfew violations, was down 33% compared to the same period in 2019.
He added that while the COVID-19 hard and soft curfews were in place, violent crime had dropped by 25%, burglaries were down 69%, the number of robberies had fallen by 89% and theft was down 62%.
Snapshot of 2019 stats
According to the RCIPS annual statistics report, overall violent crime increased by 15% last year compared to 2018, and 57% of those crimes had an element of domestic violence.
“The majority of these crimes fall into the less serious violence category, such as assault causing actual bodily harm and common assault. This is mirrored in an increase in the number of recorded crimes, involving domestic violence,” the report noted.
There was a 28% increase in the number of domestic violence referrals and a 33% rise in child safeguarding referrals dealt with by RCIPS.
“This is in line with steady increases in recent years,” Byrne said, adding that the RCIPS continued to “invest significant resources into addressing crimes that impact the most vulnerable in our communities”.
“These increases could partially be attributable to improved recording and understanding of the issues involved on the part of the RCIPS, coupled with an increased willingness on the part of victims to report these crimes and the greater range of services available, such as the Family Support Unit and MASH [Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub],” the report stated.
Less than 3% of the crimes of serious violence – which includes murder, manslaughter, GBH and wounding – recorded in 2019 involved domestic violence.
Police said last year there had been nine reports of possession of an indecent image of a child, four more than 2018; and there had been six reports of grooming of a minor, compared to one report in 2018.
However, the report stated that “there were substantial reductions in the number of rapes recorded”. Eleven rapes were dealt with by police, a drop of 52% compared to 2018.
Overall crimes of serious violence decreased by 7% last year, while serious crime declined by 14%.
The number of firearm-related crimes increased by two in 2019.
“A firearms-enabled crime is any crime that has been committed where a firearm, including an imitation, has been discharged or seen/threatened. In 2019, there were 29 crimes believed to involve a firearm,” the report noted. Those included eight robberies, five threats to kill, two aggravated burglaries, two attempted murders and one murder.
Last year, the RCIPS recovered nine firearms – five revolvers, two pistols, one shotgun and one assault rifle.
Conversely, the number of drug-related crimes decreased by 19% – 167 incidents in 2019 compared to 205 in 2018. This reduction was attributed to the drop in the number of possession-of-ganja crimes.
Offences such as burglary, criminal trespass, robbery and theft saw an overall reduction of 12%.
“The reductions are mainly due to the decreases in burglary.
“In 2019, there were 264 recorded burglaries or attempts, compared to 400 for 2018. Put into context, there were four burglary crimes per 1,000 population in 2019 compared to six per 1,000 population in 2018.
“In 2019, there were 31 recorded robberies or attempts, compared to 49 for 2018. This equates to a year-on-year reduction of 37% in the volumes of robbery,” the report stated.
Speeding continued to be a challenge for the Traffic and Roads Policing Unit, which issued 3,094 speeding tickets last year.
“This total applies to both exceeding the maximum speed limit in zone (3,063) and maximum speed limit in vehicle class (31). In 2018, the total number of tickets issued for speeding was 2,124, so there has been a year-on-year increase of 970 tickets, or 45.7% in 2019 compared to the previous year,” the report stated.
The lion’s share of the tickets – 1,791 – were issued in George Town. In West Bay, 819 tickets were issued, 208 in Bodden Town, 137 in North Side, 88 in Cayman Brac, and 48 in East End. Only three tickets were issued in Little Cayman.
“The top five locations where speeding were recorded in 2019 were Esterley Tibbetts Highway, South Sound Road, Shamrock Road, Linford Pierson Highway and West Bay Road.
“The hotspot locations for speeding offences on the Sister Islands are Dennis Foster Road, Gerrard Smith Avenue and Cotton Tree Bay Road on Cayman Brac and Guy Bank Road on Little Cayman,” the report noted.
There was a 15.3% drop in the number of DUIs in the Cayman Islands last year – 272 summons compared to 321 in 2018. However, the number of collisions increased by 16.4%, with 2,806 crashes last year compared to 2,409 in 2018.