Missing persons law needed

| 20/03/2009

In the past 6 months we have had at least 3 persons that have gone missing in the Cayman Islands. Sadly, two of those have ended in the worse possible way.

I am saddened that we are now at the stage where we need to formalize a policy to address missing persons but that time is here. We are no longer able to see these as isolated incidents that can be dealt with in an ad-hoc manner. Missing persons enquiries have to be treated very seriously as each has the potential to become a more serious crime.

I am therefore calling for both our legislators and the police to swiftly implement a missing persons report procedure and protocol. It is now high time that we implement legislation that lays out guidance on the management recording and investigation of missing persons.

The majority of persons reported missing return soon after their disappearance without suffering any harm. A small percentage, however, will have come to harm or have been the victim of crime and it must not be overlooked that the missing person report could be the start of a major crime enquiry.

The manner in which the investigation is conducted must cater for the preservation of evidence and the rules of disclosure. One of the most important considerations for the police when investigating missing persons is providing support to the immediate family and close friends. In some cases the trauma associated with such an event will place the family and friends of the missing person under severe personal pressure, particularly if the investigation or the media make heavy demands on them.

As a candidate and more importantly as a woman who now lives in great fear in the Cayman Islands, I would propose the implementation of a Management of Missing Persons Law that sets out, amongst other things, the priorities of the police service in responding to reports of missing persons can be summarised as follows: to ensure that every report of a missing person is risk assessed so that missing persons who may be vulnerable or represent high risk are immediately identified; to investigate reports of missing persons; o have clear policies in place which describe organisational roles and responses to reports of missing persons; to adopt a proactive multi-agency approach in dealing with missing persons; to support the needs of the family, those close to the missing person and the community; to ensure that staff are adequately trained to investigate missing persons’ cases; to preserve evidence where a crime has been committed.

Furthermore, police staff should maintain public confidence by delivering these priorities to a professional standard and implement an RCIPS internal forms and procedures forms; ensure that every missing person is risked assessed and resources are effectively allocated, investigated and supervised; implement a comprehensive force policy which reflects this guidance and develop systems with which support information sharing within the police service and other agencies; establish of a national persons helpline; establish a partnership program that allows for NGO’s, trained dogs, and other agencies to carry out immediate searches and road blocks, as well as an island-wide alerting system; continual training of search and rescue teams within the fire service and RCIP; and full recording of details and post-review of each case after completion by a senior RCIP officer.

Such enquiries can be very time consuming and resource intensive but we have to commit to doing all that we can to reach a satisfactory conclusion and trace the missing person. We no longer live in the safe island that time forgot.

I am calling upon all elected members and even candidates to make a contribution to this important topic. I stand ready and offer my free research and writing assistance to the RCIP in order to develop a pro-active plan for public discussion as well as support the passage of a bill.

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Comments (29)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Read the compass today: "

    "The missing persons draft policy has never been formally reviewed and approved by the RCIPS."  

    Thank you Ms. Sandra!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hear Sandra on the radio yesterday and I like what she said about this. She fully explained it and I understand what she’s trying to say.

    Apparently the police do not have any policy on this – they have a "draft". Like Sandra said, how long has that draft been on the table? Is it like the sex offender’s registry? In draft format for almost 4 years?

    Sandra was also not very critical of the police. She gave them the benefit of the doubt and said let’s wait to hear what they have to say for themselves. She sounded very sincere and clearly wants to help.

    I’m glad that she clarified that there’s no 24 hour waiting period because a lot of people seem to think that for some reason. No one using that outdating policing tactic anymore – so why are we?

    Let me say for the record – not bashing the police here – but this case was certainly mishandled. They approached my girlfriend and told her to remove the missing person’s flyer off of her car. I am so pissed at the police right now because they really messed up.

    Like Sandra said – they may not have saved Sabrina’s life BUT they could have gotten a body in better condition and collected evidence properly.

    Message to Sandra: We need a missing person’s policy or law and you have my support 100000%. This makes good common sense and please disregard the naysayers. We believe your heart is in the right place because even when you have nothing to gain you have been making a contribution. You have a record of hardwork and actually ideas. Not every idea is perfect; but it’s a place for us to start.

    Why has no other electorate thought of this? Of the sex offenders law or all the other things you propose? You are truly an inspiration.

    We see other Johnny come lately candidates in Bodden Town who have never done anything for others and now they want our vote. They will not get it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    BTW no one is jealous of Sandra.  don’t follow party lines and agreed with the sex registry.  Sometimes it’s one’s tone and the way one say things that doesn’t make some things sound right.  Some people believe everything politicians say and other people are sceptical.  I don’t trust anyone. 

    I recommended a pamplet outlining what the police procedures are so everyone will know.  Some laws can be found on http://www.cila.ky.  I have found a lot of information there.  I know there is alot more information that isn’t there. 

     

    We need to be more positive and stop tearing the police down.  That is a hard job.  Anyone who thinks they can do better can join them.  I sure don’t want the job.

  4. Anonymous says:

    nicky the banner on top is in the way of everything after science.

    Nicky: could you email me at nicky@caymannewsservice.com if this is still a problem please.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sandra is lobbying the public; you know how long it takes to do anything. This is about bringing a level of awareness to the fact that we need some change in this particular area. The police have done a horrible job here and YES they need us to be critical of them. Their comments to the family and remarks to other people to take down their flyers from their cars is unbelievable.

    A missing person may not happen often. Just like a hurricane may not happen often. But just like with the hurricane we have a comprehensive plan in place and carry out regular exercises for those persons to get practice. So, why can’t we do that with the police. Why can’t we expect more of them?

    This is not about the LA coming to an end. We can see that our legislators take years to pass anything meaningful. So if Sandra starts lobbying them now maybe by 2012 they can get something done.

    The preservation of evidence is so critical in these cases and time is of the essence. The police do not seem to have that approach. So, I’m sorry – I agree that we need a unified PLANNED response and that is all that is being suggested here.

  6. Owen says:

    Educating ignorance

     

    The price of stupidity is higher than ignorance. When one tries to make suggestions, one must be logical and reasonable. There IS NO Need for a megan’s in the cayman islands. How many persons have been abducted in the last 100 years here? This is the starting base for policy decisions.

    Common law is the basis by which many of our laws are built. By common law I was suggesting that there must be precedent and substantial case law with similar issues that you all propose. Since you are so focused on seeing something change, how about going to court and filing an action. With dissolution of parliament tomorrow this initiative to have any change in law is simply a wish list that requires the support of a majority of your next parliamentarians elected. Reality is this is quite unlikely. Why don’t you with these blasted idiosyncratic suggestions offer to form a volunteer group like Childwatch of USA or other Missing persons organizations to lend support to the police instead of criticising the police and their procedures of lack thereof.

    Instead of fanning the flame of fear and pursuing STUPID agenda that do not solve the issue seek to understand before pushing your agenda for Sandra. Nobody blames you for supporting a candidate but don’t condem my propositions based on your lack of argumentative skill to support your real agenda.

    If you are sincere, let’s start with a common ground. Are you serious about alleviating missing persons? If  a child goes missing, I am sure the approach is different than if an adult goes missing. Let’s be sensible people!!

    What you are doing is called lobbbying? Unfortunately, you are lobbying NOTHING and NO ONE as of March 24 there is no parliament as it is dissolved. So if you are serious about change, after elections take up this petition and the people who support it and then agitate for change. In the interim if you wan tto support Sandra go ahead and do so but do so honestly and not disingenuiously with an election at hand.

    Obviously this is a serious issue (i.e. the death of this young lady) but let’s not get this as a political football at the grief of her family. I can’t imagine the pain they are experiencing but I do know criticising the po po will not help your cause, and that of anyone else in the future.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Owen, there is really no need to be so belligerent and insulting. it is entirely possible to intelligently discuss the merits or otherwise of someone’s ideas without resorting to personal insults. Sandra is simply trying to be proactive to address a situation that confronts us. Like any idea it will have to be weighed and considered. We do want politicians to be positive and constructive rather than simply attacking each other. Most people are fed up with that kind of politics. Please do not discourage well-meaning people from entering the political arena.  

  7. Anonymous says:

    Leave policing to police? And when they don’t do that? Who will speak for us?

    • Mind your Business says:

      Wow, can’t wait to see how well the next local RCIP recruiting drive goes, given the amazing number of experts we now seem to have in the field. Hopefully everyone will will apply, which should go a long way to helping with the unemployment issue as well. Ms. Catron, if your application for Commisioner is successful will you remain a candidate?

  8. Nicky Watson says:

    Lois – could you post your comments in regular black please.

  9. noname says:

    Um, no. Each case has significant differences and must be allowed to be treated as individual cases. Let the police police, the lawyers lawyer and the politicians politic.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I whoelheardly support this and wish to say to the EVIL people out there who try to tear down every good idea to please get a life or come up with your own good ideas … Dare I say you don’t have any?

    Right away there should be an Amber type alert that is put in place. I don’t care if the person is an adult or not. You cannot afford to miss a beat and wait 24 hours or longer to decided if you shoudl start looking for this person. By the time the family reported it Sabrina has already been missing for 1 day anyway. Get with the program people.

    Shame on all other candidates and politicians who have not spoken out on this issue. Seems to me that they have no real balls to deal with the hard issues facing us.

    Thanks you Ms. Sandra!

  11. Lois says:

    If my grandchild, or any child went missing for an hour, let alone 24 hours, I would be going bananas. This law is outdated, and in these times, you cannot wait for 24 hours. Do you realize what can happen in minutes?  The only time the police is doing their work is if someone called to tell them they smell weed, or some individual call in to tell them they see somone smoking weed. They would be there within seconds. They are not waiting for 24 hours to go check it out. So, what does a human life worth?

    To all of you who are crying down Sandra’s proposal, you might not have a love one, you really care about, so no doubt you  can say anything negative that comes into your heads.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORKS SANDRA.

    • Anonymous says:

       As a FYI there is no official policy to wait 24 hours, that is a americanized stereotype,

      We just need to stand united to fight the trend of violence and crime, work with the police and ensure that those who commit these acts are punished; You wonder why our police seem to be handling these situations bad, its because they have never needed to face them as frequently, and thus the practice is  low when dealing with these types of situations, which i think says something good for our little island home…

      Now i am not disregarding DI Evans as what he said was outrageous, and that much would get you fired in other places; but for everyone to be  slagging the whole police service is just ignorant and stupid.

  12. Anonymous says:

    You Go Sandra!!!  God Bless You and i hope and pray to see you elected!!  You truly care about the People!!  If all Politicians truly cared about the People, what a wonderful Country we would have!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Yea, I agree with Sandra on this one. Common law says a lot – but if we only relied on that why would be need a constitution even? We need written laws that have been carefully thought through.

    I think is a pro-active consideration that everyone should take seriously.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Rely on common law? Let me share a store that explains the importance of having our rights codified. Who holds the police accountable?:

     

    Any police force that continues to employ such outdated procedures that takes an officer an hour and a half to HAND WRITE a simple report being taken is still working in the late 20th century; can anybody say 1950’s. How about having proper report forms created that don’t require every last word or situation to be written out in long-hand!   A checkbox for Burglary, Assault, Loitering, Trespassing? Last year my house was broken into. It took over two hours for an officer (with a local department right down the street) to make it to my address. By then it was dark, no photos couldbe taken. When a person showed up to process the scene the next day, he stated that it didn’t make sense to take fingerprints from the outside broken glass or surrounding window or doorknobs because the ‘salt air’ had degraded them overnight. There was one saving grace in that a bloody fingerprint was left on the inside wall next to the light switch. Did I ever hear anything back? One follow-up visit by yet a different policeman. Did I hear anything after that? No. Not a report sent to my house on the investigation or even whether one would continue.   I was told that I would have to go to the police department downtown and pay toget a copy of the report. And do what? Go catch them on my own?

    Ridiculous.

     Thank you Sandra – we need this and so much more.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Since you are so convinced there’s a procedure in place ask the police to see it! I know for a fact that there is no specific procedure on how to handle missing persons. They do this like any other investigation which is simply not enough.

    The nature of missing persons dictates that there should be a particular protocol followed. We have Meagan’s Law – Why can’t we have one here?

    Seems to me you are just jealous that someone else thought of this instead of you party followers. You see that’s the problem with you party followers – your brain is so consumed with trying to justify the lack of action by your members that you can’t think of anything as proactive as this.

    SInce you are such an expert on the "common law" – please advise us how the "common law" addresses the issue of how missing persons should be handled? Don’t just throw out a comment like that – back it up!!

    Sandra has already made sufficient headway on a policy that would assist the police. All free of charge I should say. If my child were missing I would like to kwow in 2 hours this will happen; in 4 hours this etc. Instead what do we have? Police telling someone that they will arrest her when she’s found. Well, I hope they can arrest her now!!!!!!!!!!

    You more fool than the POLICE – and they are certainly a bunch!

    Sandra – this is a great suggestion and thank you for it. BTW, you know how Sandra help’s people in BT? Check our her job seekers page and active role to help them find a job. Unlike some other candidates who want to develope a beggars mentality (like what their party leader has done in WB) Sandra believes in teaching a man to fish. So, the turkey and gift baskets and a $25 here and there will not help anyone long term.

    Jealousy – it’s a hell of a thing when 1 person can out think all of your party members huh?

    BTW, on the other petition that Sandra has started seems that it has a lot of real merit. The UK is now trying to setup a public registry because they have found that the private registry does not work. So why are we so outdated and trying to implement a private registry when our mother country (and many others) have proven that does not work?

    But – none of our members of the LA seem to keep up with this huh?

    Sandra – ignore these fools. You have my vote and I see you as being extremely proactive.

  16. Owen says:

    Catron’s rubbish recommendation

    This is the most ridiculous load of pig crap I have ever heard about. "Missing persons law’??? Are we on planet earth in the 21st century? There are quite a bit of statutes that address most crimes committed in The Cayman Islands. Further the common law has it’s fair share to address this issue. Instead of a frivolous "Missing Person Law" there ought to be review of procedures in place and the lack of execution of same in the most recent case. No doubt there is a policy in place to cover this. Why attempt to reinvent the wheel?

    Ms. Catron is out of her depth if she proposes such nonsensical and what the judiciary may term vexatious proposals. I guess we will soon hear of the need for  a Kurt Tibbetts Law or Sandra Catron law. Come on my Caymanian people, let’s start holding these off shoot candidates to some level of sensibility. Instead of shooting off press statements on things for which she demonstrates a lack of knowledge why not help the needy and the poor in Bodden Town who require financial aid just to survive this month. I know of a few who need financial assistance. Will you help Sandra?

  17. Anonymous says:

     

    I am not a professional when it comes to these kind of comments but here it goes……..

    The police of the Cayman Islands is a hopeless case.  The things that are happening in this island is disgraceful.  We need as a community need to come together and try and to stop crimes from going on.  We use to be a peaceful country where you could go to sleep and leave your doors open at night.  What happen,  is it the Government that we have in power now? 

    The police is only worried about who is speeding, what percentage of tint you have on your windows, which person or persons as the most DRUGS and minor things like that.  If a person goes missing in the Cayman Islands and is reported immediately it should not be taken for granted.  I am a young Caymanian and is very sadden by the law enforcements that we have here.   It took the RCIP 6 days to find this poor girl maybe if they were looking for her who’s to say she could be alive.  

    It is not only the Jamaican’s but other nationalties doing these crimes.  They life that Her Majesty Prison offers is ruthless.  That mean’s that you commit a crime and you live life in HMP.  The Cayman Islands need to go independent from England and start to make their owns laws.  Start hanging these people or place them in George Town and have the public go and start stoning them.  Life in prison is too great for these ANIMALS. 

    Written by a (Concerned Citizen)  

     

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why are we waiting so long to start looking for someone? Clearly, there’s no such rule in place. They did not wait 24hours for Estella. So the police decide how this goes right? That’s the problem and hence why Sandra’s petition makes sense.

    Put a law/proecedure in place that applies to everyone no matter who they are.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Oh Please – knee jerk? Having a policy in place will mean that these idiots that we call police will have guidlines to go by and besides that they can be held accountable when they screw up. Someone needs to sue the police force. No one said that it was going to save lives necessary; but it could in the future. Furthermore, it a victim is find immediately the evidence can be secured properly by the police.

    The bottom line is NEITHER Estella nor Sabrina were found by the police but instead were found by other people who were out there looking for them and could have even comprised the evidence. Not that the RCIP would be any better at preserving the evidence but we can always hope.

  20. Anonymous says:

    To "our media openly" that said the following:

    Our media openly chronical the daily issues and impairments of our Police, so it should surprise nobody that violent criminals feel more confident to carry out more daring, egregious, and heinous acts.  

    Don’t kid yourself.  These monster criminals don’t care about talk.  They study what they can do and get away with it.  Some of them study the law books, some of them are coached by other criminals who study the law books, some of them use their prison time to study more of the law books.  Then they know more of how to find the loopholes in the law to carry out their heinous acts of crime and if they do get caught, they already carried it out in a way that they will walk free from being charged or walk free from trial if it reaches trial!  You’re dealing with some very criminal minds more than you realize!  So if you think they are getting their motivation from the media, think again!  They do that all by themself, they don’t need the media to motivate them, i assure you!!  They know the weakensses of the Police Force, they don’t need the media to tell them, they already know!!  I don’t think you realize the criminal minds we are dealing with in these situations, a very simple word for them is simply this:  THEY ARE THUGS!  Simple!  That’s just it in a nutshell!  Adn their mission is to destroy and harm others!  Some people say they are animals, i say how dare they insult the poor animals!!  Animals behave much better than them!

    They are Cruel, Wicked, Evil Human Beings who are in desparate need of a heart make-over to make their heart over to lovingkindness and righteousness!  They are not Animals!  That is an insult to animals!

     

  21. Anonymous says:

    This is not part of the Police Law. Instead of criticizing based on assumptions why don’t you investigate it? Every other police force in the world has this codified in some manner. Why are we so slow on the pick-up? So everything Sandra does now is about getting votes? What about all the things she’s done for years? Look at the current MLAs – pushing thru rubbish legislation to pretend they have been working all this time. What do you think that is all about? You people are such crabs in the bucket!!

  22. Concerned says:

    I am sad that some is trying to make obvious personal pre-election capital out of these recent events.  I hope the voters see it for what it really is.

  23. Fair Cop says:

    If there is a knee-jerk reaction populist bandwagon in town you can be sure Sandra Catron will be the first to jump aboard.

    This "law" would not have saved Estella or Sabrina, nor is there any evidence that a pre-determined all-fits-one plan would improve the prospects of any future victims of crime.  If anything it is likely to be counter-productive in terms of general crime prevention strategy, especially if it is a public document.

     

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Sandra. Obviously you are thinking along the lines of how to prevent this complete mishandling by the police again. How else will we ever hold them accountable?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Our media openly chronical the daily issues and impairments of our Police, so it should surprise nobody that violent criminals feel more confident to carry out more daring, egregious, and heinous acts.  The "Open Season" mentality would seem to be a more immediate public perceptual problem, requiring correction before the issuance of some magic detective Bill, or a Law (to enforce what exactly?!?).

     

  26. Anonymous says:

    Shouldn’t this be part of the Police Law?  Isn’t there a 24 hr waiting period for someonemissing?  All they have to do is print a booklet about the procedure for reporting people missing.  Simple. 

    It’s so obvious that you are using this to get votes.  That’s sad.