Archive for October 7th, 2011

UK press tails cops on CI trip

| 07/10/2011 | 157 Comments

(CNS): The UK media was on the tail of three senior police officers from Britain this week as they paid a short visit to Cayman to review the latest murder investigations, offer some advice on tackling the growing local gang problem and to see how the 20 UK officers that will be on a six week assignment here can best be utilized. The Daily Mail managed to snap the top cops enjoying Seven Mile Beach, on board the commissioner’s boat and drinking at the beach bar during their four day visit rather than working their “nuts off”, as the Chief Constable of Merseyside, Jon Murphy, told the British Tabloid he and his colleagues were doing. (Left: Jon Murphy enjoying his advisory trip to Cayman. Photos by Splash News)

Murphy was accompanied on the trip, paid for by the Cayman Islands public purse, by his colleagues, Det Chief Supt Brian McNeill, from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and Det Chief Supt Tony Doherty, head of the Merseyside force’s Matrix gun and organised crime squad.

It seems that their every move was watched by the UK tabloid, which had also closely followed the antics of the UK special police investigation team (SPIT) headed up by Martin Bridger during Operation Tempura. The Daily Mail had labelled SPIT the “Sunshine Squad” and the tabloid wasted no time naming the latest group of UK cops the “Snorkelling Squad”.

The paper’s photo journalists managed to capture the cops enjoying the sun, sea and sand but very little of the work that the officers were reportedly here to do.  The tabloid reported that the photos showing them “sunbathing, snorkelling, sightseeing, reading novels and soaking up the sun in 84F heat are unlikely to go down well with colleagues back in Liverpool,” as they worked in a chilly 55F.

“Over two days, they were seen relaxing on the beach, enjoying a four-hour boat trip and swimming with giant stingrays on a beautiful coral reef,” the Daily Mail said of the senior officers during their Cayman trip.

The three UK top cops reportedly arrived on Monday evening but were followed by the Daily Mail through Wednesday and Thursday. The paper reported that the officers were involved in meetings with the RCIPS from around 9pm until before 4pm on Wednesday, when the police were on the beach at their hotel. On Thursday the Daily Mail reporters watched the officers enjoy a full day of leisure activities. 

The men left Cayman on Friday evening after meeting with the attorney general and legislatures before holding a press briefing at police headquarters, where they said that the RCIPS were doing a good job investigating the recent murders given their limited resources.

See the Daily Mail’s full report here along with pictures the UK senior police officers enjoying their Cayman trip.

See related story where Murphy accuses journalists of spying on him

CNS Note: From the Department of Immigration website – one of the activities that is exempt from the work permit requirements is "the covering of a specific news assignment as a newspaper, magazine, radio or television journalist representing a recognised news organisation."

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Cayman’s magistrate moves up in TCI

| 07/10/2011 | 71 Comments

Margaret-Ramsay-Hale_1.jpg(CNS): Margaret Ramsay-Hale is leaving the Cayman Islands summary court to take up an appointment as a judge in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The governor offered his best wishes to the local Chief Magistrate who has served in Cayman’s summary court since 1998. “I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale on her appointment,” Duncan Taylor said in a statement released from his office ashe thanked her for the commitment and dedication she had shown here and for the “outstanding work” she had done in Cayman.

The Judicial and Legal Services Commission will now begin the process of recruiting another Magistrate for the Cayman Islands Summary Court

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Swiss banks prepare to give up secrets to US

| 07/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Swiss-info): Switzerland is preparing to send information about alleged tax cheats to the United States, a Swiss newspaper claimed on Friday, without naming its source. The German-language Tages-Anzeiger says there was a “secret meeting” last week between the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF) and the “core group” of 11 Swiss banks currently in the sights of the US tax authorities. The banks were allegedly told to put together the files of their US clients. A first batch of data is to be sent at the end of October, with several thousand more to follow in the middle of November, the paper says.

An SIF spokesman refused to comment on the report. He told the paper only that discussions with the US were still underway. “Requests for administrative assistance on the issue are evidently expected to be submitted by the Americans shortly,” the paper says. “The aim of a partial handover is above all that Credit Suisse should for the moment avoid an indictment in the US.”

Go to full article
 

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Pre-school teachers offered early years instruction

| 07/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Thirty-two early childhood practitioners are learning the basics of child development in an Early Childhood Care and Education Unit (ECCE) hosted early-years introduction course. Designed specifically for individuals working in the industry, it aims to teach practitioners about sociocultural theory and practice, child development milestones, communication and language development, as well as literacy and numeracy learning. Participants will also learn how to plan activities for infants, toddlers and young children, incorporating aspects of the new Cayman Islands Early Years Curriculum Framework that is being developed by the ECCE and which was recently shared with early childhood centre representatives.

Participants will present these, along with portfolios chronicling their six-week learning journey, during the final week.

”The need for an introductory course was indicated when unit staff gathered information on the professional development needs of early childhood care and education practitioners,” Early Childhood Care and Education Senior Policy Advisor Julie Madgwick explained. “The course is a prerequisite for participants to continue their studies with the unit.”

At the moment, two courses are being offered concurrently — each with 16 participants — from 4:00 p.m-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the George Town Primary School.
Madgwick says another professional development 

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PPM pushes for self-defence

| 07/10/2011 | 93 Comments

(CNS): Members of the opposition are hoping that government will back them on three proposals to beef up individual protection and allow people to defend themselves against criminals. The People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) has filed three private members motions in the Legislative Assembly for debate during the current meeting that could attract support from the government benches but is unlikely to receive a warm welcome from the commissioner of police. The opposition leader and his team are calling for the decision of who gets a firearm’s license to be taken away from the top cop and given to an authority, the legalization of pepper spray for personal protection and to allow security guards to be armed.

Alden McLaughlin has said that given the continuing rise in violent crime, the current policies regarding self-defence are inadequate and he believes the commissioner of police must change his approach and allow people the ways and means to protect themselves against violent crime.

In his motion to establish a Firearms Authority, which is supported the East End member Arden McLean, the opposition leader has said that with unlicensed firearms on the rise and legitimate licenses apparently falling, the decision over who can own a weapon legally needs to be taken away from the police commissioner, who has made it clear he is opposed to the principle of gun ownership for self-defence.

McLaughlin says that the policy regarding the issue of firearms licenses is very restrictive at a time when unlicensed firearms are increasingly common, as illustrated by the number of crimes involving guns. As a result he is now asking government to amend the firearms law that provides for the police commissioner to be the sole authority on the decision to grant firearms licenses and to create a firearms authority, which will include the commissioner along with at least three justices of the peace appointed by the governor, to issue firearms licenses that will offer what McLaughlin believes is a fairer representation on who can be trusted to own a gun.

McLaughlin has also filed a motion supported by his Bodden Town colleague Anthony Eden asking government to amend the penal code as well as the firearms law to allow people to carry pepper spray or Mace for their own protection without a license in order to directly protect themselves from robbers and other violent criminals.

The former opposition leader, Kurt Tibbetts, has also tabled a motion, backed by McLaughlin to address what the opposition says is theinadequate protection offered to private security guards. Tibbetts is calling on government to allow those guarding businesses, apartment complexes and even private homes that are currently not only unarmed but unprotected to be allowed to use non-lethal means of protection.

Tibbetts says the law needs to be amended at the very least to allow them to wear bullet-proof vests and carry batons, handcuffs and pepper spray when they are on duty. In some cases he also stated that the law needs to be amended to allow for firearms licenses to be issued to some security guards provided the necessary checks regarding suitability and competence are carried out.

The three motions were scheduled for debate during the most recent sitting but were postponed due to government business taking priority. The private members motions are, however, expected to return to the Legislative Assembly when it next meets, which could be as early as Monday.

In a recent marathon debate about the crime problem all members of the Legislative Assembly came together to call on the governor and the police commissioner to get tougher on crime. Following talks between the officials and the elected members of government, the Legislative Assembly voted to increase the police budget but in return asked for a task force and more armed officers.

During the crime debate the issue of personal protection seemed to gain support from both sides of the country’s parliament. As these issues essentially fall under the responsibility of the administrative arm of government, the opposition team may well be able to attract enough support from the government benches for the legislative changes, but they are unlikely to win the support of the commissioner and ultimately the governor.

At a recent meeting with the business community about how the authorities were tackling crime, Duncan Taylor warned against knee-jerk reactions to the way the islands are policed or how people protect themselves.

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Coach gets frustrated on eve of world cup match

| 07/10/2011 | 60 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s football coach expressed his frustration over players not turning up for practice on the eve of a world cup game but the players say they are confident going into the fixture against  Suriname at the Truman Bodden Stadium this evening. At a CIFA press conference Thursday Carl Brown, the technical director, said players selected for the national squad had not been turning up for training . Brown warned that while Cayman had enough talent to be the best team in the Caribbean, the team was looking at being embarrassed on the international circuit as one day it would not be able to pull together a full team. He warned that the team had not come together for training one time since the players lost against El Salvador. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

The country’s football coach suggested that the minister of sport look into the problem of why young men selected to play for the national squad don’t turn up for training and said he had not been able to get to the bottom of the problem of players not turning out.

“I really don’t have the answer,” the coach told Cayman 27 in an interview. “The football association, the minister of sports need to spend some time and find out why is it that our young men who have been invited to the national programme are reluctant to turn up. It is time, before we are embarrassed one of these days.”

Brown also raised the problem of immigration, saying that some of Cayman’s players who qualify to play for the national squad could not get Cayman passports, which is an issue as it is now a strict requirement that national players carry a passport for that country.

Despite the disappointments and lack of consistency withthe team, Brown and the players are hoping to get a good result on Friday.

See Cayman27 interview with Brown here

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Bad public policy

| 07/10/2011 | 51 Comments

Public policy issues may not have the headline grabbing appeal of some other topics, but creating and following good public policy minimizes waste, corruption and a host of other problems. Public policy should be designed to maximise the public good rather than the private profit of a few. Unfortunately, that principle often seems to be forgotten, ignored or not understood by some. 

Bad public policy tends to be prevalent in countries with endemic corruption. This is no coincidence as bad public policy tends to facilitate corruption. Many bad policies require great effort and expense to fix. Fortunately, the recent suspect policy decisions which are discussed in this Viewpoint can be put right quickly and with little cost.

The recent governmental decision to offer immigration and tax incentives to stimulate economic diversification was a good one, as was the decision taken by both political parties to get the ball rolling. However, the policy decision to limit access to these incentives, at least for the foreseeable future, to those who do business within a single privately owned special economic zone (SEZ) was badly flawed. Similarly, the policy decision to administer the incentives through a new bureaucratic authority is also flawed. 

There is no legitimate public policy requirement for forcing prospective new investors to rent or purchase from any “favoured” developer in order to receive government incentives. All this restriction is likely to do is to create an artificial shortage of favoured office space, entice existing tenants out of locally owned property, drive up costs for potential investors, deter both desirable investment and economic diversification, and make someone an unearned profit.

It would be far better from a public policy perspective if our legislation opened up the commercially zoned areas in the entire country to economic diversification based on uniform incentives. Let suitable investors rent from a “favoured” developer if they want, but do not try to force them to do so, and do not give any “favoured” developer or its tenants any competitive advantage at public expense. Who profits from forcing investors to rent from a “favoured” developer in order to get incentives? Certainly it is not the Caymanian public.

The existing pillars of the Cayman economy, finance and tourism, allow investors to choose where to locate within multiple appropriately zoned areas. The success of these existing economic pillars came about in part because there were uniform rules and no politically “favoured” developers.

The notion that a “favoured” developer had to be chosen as part of the diversification initiative because entities which locate in an SEZ will be given special customs and immigration incentives is entirely specious. We have existing incentive models that work quite well. The existing models provide incentives but do not hand a monopoly to anybody, and do not require the large and expensive bureaucracy that the new SEZ authority will produce. Hotels developments are provided with concessions based on what they do rather than which developer they acquire land from, or which real estate company they agree to sell through – or at least that is the way it should work now that the anti-corruption legislation is in effect.

Agricultural enterprises now receive duty and immigration incentives of various types based on what they do, without any need to rent property from a politically “favoured” developer. That existing uncomplicated system works well for a large number of farmers at minimal cost and with very little bureaucracy.   

A further aspect of flawed policy is apparent in the process established for limiting competition with the initial SEZ.What purpose does the SEZ approval process serve other than creating the potential for a toll booth operated by those who seek private profit? If all bona fide investors were provided with incentives on the basis of what they do to stimulate Caymanian employment and economic diversification, rather than who they pay, public policy will be better served. 

Fortunately, there are simple, effective, immediate and long term fixes to the policy failings recently translated into law. Even better, the fixes do not rely on those who designed the problems.

The immediate fix requires those honest politicians likely to be part of the government in 20 months time to demonstrate their commitment to good public policy by publicly stating that they will further encourage economic diversification by amending the SEZ legislation to allow all high tech and other targeted investors to receive the same incentives now restricted to those who rent or buy from “favoured” developers. Providing this assurance to existing property owners, potential developers, and potential investors will increase our chances of successful diversification by providing an incentive for many people to seek inward investment. That would be good for Caymanians in general and not just those politically connected. Who knows it might even limit the sending of questionable invoices. 

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