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2021 sees return to “more normal” crime activity

Law Enforcement 30 Mar, 2022 Follow News

2021 sees return to “more normal” crime activity

By Lindsey Turnbull

Talking at a press briefing on Wednesday, Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne and the RCIPS Senior Command Team discussed the newly released Crime and Statistics Report for 2021. The general disruption caused by the pandemic seemed to subside as far as crime in the Cayman Islands was concerned, with the country seeing a return to more normal levels of crime, the said.

While 2021 saw a small increase in crimes of 3.9% (140 crimes) in total compared to 2020, the volumes of crime recorded in 2021 remained below the levels of 2019. However, police have been concerned by rising levels of gun and gang-related crimes perpetrated last year. Gang related shootings and firearms-enabled robberies targeting those involving illegal gambling contributed to this increase. The RCIPS responded quickly by making a number of significant arrests and disrupting and dismantling the groups involved in organised criminal activity, primarily in the George Town and West Bay districts.

“We do have concerns about the number of firearms that there are within the community, the number we don’t know, and a lot of it will be down to assistance from the community in terms of guiding us as to where these firearms might be,” the Commissioner stated.

In response to community concerns regarding road safety, the RCIPS initiated Operation QUAKER to tackle driving offences and pursue offenders with heightened and targeted enforcement across the Cayman Islands. This resulted in substantial increases in arrests for DUI and persons being ticketed for using a mobile phone when driving, and high levels of vehicles with illegal tint.

The Commissioner also spoke about the pressures placed upon the RCIPS to respond to 9-1-1 calls that were not crime-related.

In total, the RCIPS received 34,093 9-1-1 calls in 2021, of which 12,227 didn’t reach a crime category.

“That means 33 per cent of the calls are core functions; they were effectively convenience activities,” Commissioner Byrne explained. “A lot of this will be alarms to private dwellings, so although the alarm is contracted to the alarm company, the alarm company ring the police, the police respond.”

The long term goal was to shed that function, but in order to do so the Commissioner said he needed to have some kind of understanding that someone would take it on.

A change management programme was required and it was a work in progress to potentially reduce the police calls by a third. Dealing with minor material damage traffic accidents was another unnecessary burden on police time, whereby the public was reporting minor accidents that did not require police notification. Other more extreme incidents included 9-1-1 being called because dogs were barking and even one call from someone complaining their child was not doing their homework.

The Police Commissioner also spoke about the reporting of detection within the RCIPS and said that leading and lagging indicators meant that although crimes were being detected they were not showing up as such, whereby a crime might have been committed but not detected until some months later because of ongoing investigations.

“There are a whole lot of strands that we have to pull together to get accurate detection rates,” he confirmed. The Commissioner cited as an example the three machete crimes that took place over the weekend. The police knew who committed the crimes but the crimes had not been recorded as yet as detected because those cases had not progressed to prosecution. Other serious crimes had also been detected but not formally recorded.

“We have some work to go to record crimes detected,” he acknowledged.

He went on to say that integrity of data was paramount and they had some concerns around the quality of the data as they related to detection rates That said, he confirmed the RCIPS was having multiple successes and he was quite happy that they were detecting serious and even less serious crime

The Commissioner said said that, overall, crime rates remained very stable in the Cayman Islands.

“The key message is that the borders are open and the Cayman Islands remains a very safe place to live, to work, to visit, to come here on vacation, to retire and to invest,” he said.

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