No jailhouse on the Brac

| 22/07/2009

(CNS): Police Commissioner David Baines told Cayman Brac residents at a community meeting Monday that there is currently no jail on island, and said the police officers had to deal with an unworkable arrangement where they “babysat” criminals until they could be taken off the island to Grand Cayman. He said it was completely unacceptable and he had told his officers, “If you’ve got someone who’s riled, there’s plenty of palm trees outside – handcuff them to one of those.” (Left: Brac police station after Hurricane Paloma)

While noting that they should make sure they had water and were in the shade, he said, “If people are a risk and a potential danger, we need to take control of the situation.”

On the other hand, he said that he had looked at the cells at the police station at the Creek, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Paloma in November of last year, and thought they were the best in the Cayman Islands. He said the cell blocks in George Town were decrepit and should be condemned, a point he had made when interviewed for the job of commissioner, he said. Noting that we have an obligation to treat people with respect, he pointed out that they were not just used for prisoners but for mental health patients as well, since there was no other facility.

“Some of them are high risk individuals capable of self harm and we are putting them into facilities that are dangerous in themselves,” he said, adding that three of his officers had been badly assaulted in existing facilities. “They are crumbling, poor and unfit for purpose,” he said.

The commissioner said that government had set aside $250,000 to repair the Brac police station. However, he wondered if that was “merely putting a band-aid over some really problematic issues” that existed with the old building. He said the RCIPS was trying to influence a longer term strategy of getting a new building in the heart of the island, where all districts were equally accessible, and that they were meeting with planners Tuesday to discuss the issue. However, he was not blind to the financial state the government is in, he said, and if cuts had to be made, he would rather they be “in cars and estate than officers.”

“Buildings, cars and computers don’t make people safe, but uniformed officers responding and turning up when you need them do make a difference,” he said, noting that the Brac, like all districts was already short of officers.

The suggestion of a new station found support from Brac residents, and one resident thought that a new police building could be combined with a new fire station. Area Commander, Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay, speaking at the first RCIPS community meeting since taking up the position, noted that the police had been using space in the UCCI building since the hurricane, but that the university now needed that space back.
Listing the crime statistics for the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year, Chief Inspector Kay said they showed a rise, but this was partly due to improvements in documenting crime. He said that when he arrived in January, one of the first things he noticed was that far more went on in Cayman Brac than had previously been reported to senior officers in Grand Cayman. These were not major crimes, but the Brac police dealt with far more incidents on a day to day basis that was documented the way he felt it should be.

Paloma was also a contributing factor to the increase, said Kay, partly because of an influx of people to help with the clean up, and partly because of additional stress caused by the hurricane. There was a significant increase in speeding tickets, which had more than doubled.

There was also a significant rise in violent crimes, up from 11 to 35, which Kay later said were mostly related to domestic abuse, which is a huge issue on the island, he said. With the domestic violence officer for the Brac having just returned to the UK, the chief inspector said that two officers had been identified for DV training. Kay assured residents that there would be arrests where it was obvious that domestic violence has taken place, and while police would try to prosecute wherever possible even without the cooperation of the victim, this made a conviction more difficult and the charge often had to be reduced from assault to a breach of the peace.

The other issue, he said, was a safe house on the Brac for victims of domestic abuse. A member of the Brac Business and Professional Women’s Club noted that they were trying to tackle this issue but lacked the resources and manpower available in Grand Cayman.

Two female Brac residents told of a man who had harassed and threatened both of them as well as other women on the island. One woman claimed this had been going on for five years and she had made numerous complaints to the police, who had responded about 98% of the time, she said. It had got to the point where she carried a piece of wood in her car for protection. She had been told it was with the legal department – but this had been the case for two years.

Baines said he was still learning the difference between UK and Cayman law, but that the crime of Breaching the Peace was common to both, and the man could be arrested every time he harasses. That would allow the magistrates to bind him over for good behaviour, which means he must promise that he won’t do a set list of actions. If he then breaches that, then increasingly the magistrates can impose further sentences in court because they have failed to comply with the directives, Baines explained.

Kay said that if anyone has an issue that they don’tthink is being dealt with properly, they could come and see him or go higher to Superintendent Adrian Seales, who was also at the meeting. “We all have a boss,” he noted.

The issue of speeding was also raised by a high school teacher, who said that cars and trucks drove through the school area, which has a 25mph limit, at much higher speeds.

Baines suggested an innovative approach, which had been successful in the UK in a similar situation, whereby students (wearing high glow jackets) accompanied police who were patrolling the area with a radar gun. When the drivers were stopped, they were asked a set of questions by the students, such as, what would you do if you hit us? Or, how you would feel if your child were killed by a speeder? Baines said the drivers go away chastised, and the idea was that rather than just get a fine, they actually thought about what they had done.

Pointing to another traffic issue, Baines said, “No one seems to be able to drive here without having a phone to their ear.” The problem that had been dealt with in the UK by having a fixed fine of £100, he said.

The lack of street lights in some areas – another remnant of Paloma – was also raised, and although this was not the responsibility of the police, the commissioner said that such things did impact crime. Along with the issue of littering, which was also raised by residents, and such things as unkempt and overgrown bush, dogs roaming wild and graffiti, Baines noted that this affected whether people viewed the area as a safe environment.

With the Brac down to 8 constables when it should have 12, Kay said they don’t have the resources to have a special beat officer. However, he believes that every officer should be highly visible and a part of the community. He also noted that PC Netty Bulgin woul be taking up the DARE programme in Cayman Brac primary schools next school year.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

Comments (15)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Perfect idea.  Since we are at it, why don’t we close all the buildings, saving some money, have all the government offices held under the trees-the same trees where the prisoners are tied!  Now that’s efficiency!!

  2. Pale Rider says:

    "In response to Pale Rider’s comments –  shouldn’t all persons have the same right to live in a crime free society?"

     Absolutely!!  But think how you would feel if you were arrested on "suspicion" of an offence, by someone who may have an axe to grind or a grudge…..Don’t say it can’t happen….and when you try to proclaim your innocence or state your alibi, you were judged to be "riled" and handcuffed to a tree for an indefinate period of time???  

     I am in no way saying that persons who are CONVICTED by a court of law, should enjoy wholesale luxury and ease….but there is a major difference between a person who IS convicted of a crime and how they should be treated and someone who has only been taken into custody and not proven to have committed ANY offense…

      Once again, a person who comes from a country where the mindset is that they are the "superior nationality" and makes a comment like, "they should be handcuffed to a tree", and everyone seems to think this is acceptable???  

     I bet you wouldn’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon if he had said they should be "hung from a tree"….strange fruit indeed…..

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yea…lets point in other directions to cover up the RCIP’s incompetence! Crime in the Brac is minor and  far less brutal than what is being done in Grand Cayman at the moment. Yes, it is crime nonetheless; however will they be covering up evidence over there as well?

    Too many expats in the police force are corrupt!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think the idea about the speeders is a great one. What about other traffic violations? So many idiots on the road.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You all seem to have lost sight of the headline. There’s no jail on the Brac so nowhere to put someone who’s maybe drunk and beligerant. What would you do with someone who’s angry and violent? Shouldn’t the focus of this discussion be about a solution to the NO JAIL problem?

  6. "Concerned" says:

    Good up-standing citizens do not require being treated like animals, but "if" for any reason you have chosen to go outside the law, then by all means withstand the punishment you receive.  We seem to think that we can go around breaking the law to suit ourselves, and have no regard for the Police Officers.

    My mottos is that "if you choose to break the law SUFFER the consequences attached.  Being cuffed to palm trees too good for some of these hulligans, strip them down and tie them in ANTS.

    In response to Pale Rider’s comments –  shouldn’t all persons have the same right to live in a crime free society?


  7. Anonymous says:



  8. Anonymous says:

    Maybe Com. Baines had these funnies in his email this week….

    Q: Why do little boys whine         A: They are practising to be men

    Q: What do you call a handcuffed man              A: Trustworthy

    Q: How do you keep your man from reading your e-mail          A: Rename the mail folder ‘Instruction Manuals’

  9. noname says:

    This is not them and us…

    Why does everything have to boil back down to be either political or Expat v. Locals?  This is about breaking and enforcing the law….. people are people. 

    “If you’ve got someone who’s riled, there’s plenty of palm trees outside – handcuff them to one of those.”    Darned good idea!

    A. The person is in custody – bad enough

    b. They are "riled" – why should the officers put up with that?

    This self imposed position of being a "native" will keep any perceived prujudices in place. 

    It’s time the adults here become as ‘color-blind’ (and unbiased) as the children are.  



  10. Pale Rider says:

    "When you commit a crime against society prepare to waive your ‘rights’."


    What ever happened to due process and the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty???

    Let’s see you get handcuffed to a palm tree on the mere pretext of simply being accused of a crime before you have access to counsel and due process and I think you will change your tune right quick..

    All persons share the same rights to human dignity and respect…that is what is wrong with this and every society…we want to treat others as animals but raise holy hell when this behaviour is exibited against us…

    NOW what we do with our criminals AFTER they are found convicted and sentenced is an entirely different story….

  11. Anonymous says:

    "Do they handcuff people to trees back where Mr Baines comes from?"

    Probably not, but they have jails where Mr Baines comes from…..or did you not bother to read the story properly? He also said that it was if people were "riled", in other words being an arsehole. You seem to have more sympathy for the arseholes than the police. Why is that? Kindred spirit?

    Also, if you had managed to read all the way through instead of a stupid knee-jerk reaction after reading the fist paragraph, you would see that he has openly condemned the GT lockup. Did your braincells give out or does your sympathy for those in custody only extend to those on the Brac.

    How about we give the new commissioner a chance and not try to f**k up his efforts to clean up the RCIPS and win back respect for the police before he’s really got started. Believe me, if he fails, we are all screwed.


  12. Hope says:

    Yeay for Commissioner Baines!!  Maybe if criminals were treated more like criminals there would be less crime?!   People with enough time on their hands to be up to no good may soon straighten up if their time was spent tied to a tree.  Human rights…. sure.  When you commit a crime against society prepare to waive your ‘rights’.   Best idea I’ve heard in along time.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Do they handcuff people to trees back where Mr Baines comes from?

    Is this the level of respect that Caymanians can expect from our soon to be new and improved police corps?

    Nice respect for human rights. I am sure the UK and EU would be proud.

    Sounds like business as usual with the RCIPS  – they’ve just put a new English man at the top to keep the rowdy natives in their place – which is apparently tethered to a tree.



  14. Sad Young Caymanian says:

    I hope that he brings the innovative response to speeders (having children ask ?s) to Grand Cayman!

    I don’t know much about the man but that is innovative and probably effective. 

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like PPM!

    PPM Bandaid:

    "The commissioner said that government had set aside $250,000 to repair the Brac police station. However, he wondered if that was “merely putting a band-aid over some really problematic issues” that existed with the old building. "

    Unlike Kurt & Crew the Commission said "However, he was not blind to the financial state the government is in, he said, and if cuts had to be made, he would rather they be “in cars and estate than officers.”