Archive for September, 2013

Teen charged in NS robbery

| 27/09/2013 | 2 Comments

(CNS) Update: Following the news that a16 year-old boy has been charged by police over a robbery at a North Side grocery store last Monday afternoon, the RCIPS has confirmed that another teenager and two men in their twenties have also now been charged with the same crime. The teen who cannot be named because of his age appeared in court Friday morning (27 September) in connection with the armed robbery at Chisholm’s Supermarket charged with robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent. He was remanded in custody until 4 October. Police said Monday morning that three other young men arrested following the grocery store hold-up had also now ben charged.

The three men are aged 19, 20 and 29 years old and they have all been charged with robbery and are expected to appear in court this morning (30 September.)

The men were arrested after the police helicopter was able to track their escape from the crime scene up to East End. The chopper was dispatched immediately after the crime, when a witness was able to describe the car in which the robbers fled. The air support unit soon spotted the car turning off Frank Sound Road towards East End and was able to communicate with patrols on the ground which stopped the vehicle and arrested the four occupants in the high Rock area.

The robbery occurred around 4:25pm Monday 23 September, when two men, both in possession of what appeared to be handguns, entered the supermarket and threatened afemale member of staff before making off with a quantity of cash and cigarettes.

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Lemons and apples

| 27/09/2013 | 136 Comments

The recent headlines in regards to the airport authorities HR boss work permit denial has struck a nerve with a lot of people. I must say that I have been completely shocked by the pure hatred and insults that were printed when it comes to the Cayman immigration laws and Caymanians in the workforce. I am an Expat and consider myself a guest in this country.

The laws and regulations of the Cayman Islands are not hidden. Yes, they are subject to change, which may be frustrating, but this is the case for the laws of any country. Therefore, one would assume that everyone who comes to Cayman (whether to work or to set up a business) would know what the immigration laws dictate and any potential risk and/or lack of guarantees involved. Having worked in two other places before coming to Cayman (Europe and USA), I find it baffling that people working or operating  their business in Cayman feel that they have the right to demand and dictate what the laws should be. I wish they would try to have the same attitude in Europe and in the USA.

When I worked in the USA (where, by the way, the company I worked for had to hire an immigration lawyer to get through the maze of the immigration laws), I always knew that my time in the USA may be limited, not by my own choice, but because of the immigration laws which were obviously subject to change. The renewal of my work permit was never guaranteed. It was a risk I was willing to take. Nobody forced me take up a job in the USA and I never claimed that the USA has become a better place because of me living there and contributing to their economy, nor did I carry the attitude that no American could be potentially better suited for the position I held. I did move to the USA for my own selfish reason and not because I wanted to make the USA a better place.

Honestly, I can’t believe the blatant lies of expats in Cayman when they claim that they came to Cayman to help build it back, help build it up, and Cayman would be nothing without them. Every single expat I have met in Cayman who moved here has come to Cayman because of better job opportunities, shorter working hours, shorter commutes, an easy place to raise a family … the list goes on and on. NOBODY I have encountered throughout my years in Cayman has relocated to the Islands despite having had a better job and a better life from wherever they came. Anyone who claims otherwise is a moron.

The immigration laws of the Cayman Island read that where there is a qualified Caymanian available for a position, no work permit should be granted. It doesn’t read that the best qualified person recruited from all over the world should get the job.

It may not be what businesses like, but that law is pretty much the rule in every country. I have seen many companies here on Island filing a “key employee exemption” for one of their employees, which basically means that the company could no longer operate if that person was to leave the company. Funny enough, every single one of those “key employees” I knew has left the company they were so “key” to and moved on to another employer on Island. Guess what happened to those companies they worked for as a “key employee”? Absolutely nothing! Those companies are still functioning just fine!

There are many references to Caymanians being unprofessional, lazy and incompetent, yet, in my time on the Island I have worked with many expats who fit the same profile. However, we tend to be blinded by a flashy resume they often produce or when they talk a good talk! The colonial superior (or inferior) attitude is well alive and rampant. I alone had two bosses put in front of me (expats) who were hailed to be the answer to all prayers, but ironically, it was realized quickly that their resumes didn’t match their actual knowledge when put to the test and within a few month, each of them moved on. No further announcement was made to clarify what has happened to them.

I have observed expat staff showing up late for work and using extended lunch hours but no fuss was made because, guess what, their boss is an expat and just too willing to turn a blind eye when it suits. I could give countless examples, but really, what is the point of going tit for tat?

The hypocritical attitude displayed by so many expats and work permit holders is mind boggling. Where they are here in Cayman and are demanding jobs and laws that suits their businesses, they are the same ones who are getting themselves in quite a rage when back in their home country if a Pakistani gets a position over a Brit, or an Indian is hired as a CPA ahead of an American.

At the end of the day, one fact remains, as an expat (or work permit holder) you are a guest in the country (other than your homeland) where you chose to reside and work and should conduct yourself accordingly. Insulting an entire nation on a regular basis by way of childish generalizations and putting down demand after demand is hardly the right way to integrate into a society.

The way things are going here, it is the expats that expect the Caymanians to integrate themselves into the expat community and to be grateful that they (the expats and work permit holders) graced this Island with their presence. No matter what, it seems that Caymanians are never sufficiently qualified and there is always something more they should strive to. There is always an answer and always an excuse for why an expat was hired ahead of a Caymanian and after all of that, the Caymanian should sit down, be quiet and turn the other cheek! What utter Bullshit!

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Crime is not ‘inevitable’

| 27/09/2013 | 49 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands cannot and must not concede that rising violent crime is an inevitable by-product of progress in a growing nation, Premier Alden McLaughlin has said in the face of another surge in gun-related crimes on Grand Cayman. With daily headlines regarding home invasions, door-step robberies and even car-jacking, McLaughlin said he was not prepared to accept that more crime was the norm when societies grow, and more must be done to stop the flow of guns into the islands. He promised to maintain the investment in the police and to finance the increasing use of technology to fill the evidence gap.

“The recent spate of armed robberies is a matter of gravest concern for the government,” he told an audience of business owners and Chamber of Commerce members, many of whom know only too well the problems that the islands arecurrently facing when it comes to burglaries, break-ins and robberies.

Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Lunch yesterday about the gun-related crime wave the premier said, “Although the use of guns to commit crimes is becoming far too common, I have told my friend, the Commissioner of Police, … that we cannot and must not concede that this is an inevitable by-product of progress in a growing nation. We must aim to stamp it out, do more to stem the inflow of unlicensed firearms to Cayman and create an environment in which all criminals believe that they will be caught if they commit offences and that they will be put away for a very long time.  I am happy to say he agrees with me.”

He acknowledged that there was a direct link between unemployment and crime, and as his government worked on creating more jobs for Caymanians in the long term, the new administration was committed to supporting the efforts of the RCIPS within the constraints of the budget, and giving them as much technical resources as possible to allow them to continue the crime fight.

With witnesses still reluctant to come forward for a variety of reasons, McLaughlin said technology could help the police secure more convictions without the need for eye witness.

“We have stepped up our game to ensure that technology and specialized equipment fill the evidence gap which so often exists when we try to detect and prosecute serious crimes, especially gun-related crimes,” he added. “The police have spent significant resources on training to improve the skill sets of officers in key areas, such as report writing and evidence gathering.”

Pointing to the high profile success recently for the RCIPS through the use of the police helicopter and the National CCTV system, when four young men were arrested after reportedly robbing a grocery store in North Side and an alleged carjacker cornered after a high speed attempted escape, he said the Air Operations Unit had not only helped to make the arrests but had reduced the risk to the the community by eliminating the need for a dangerous pursuit on the road.

McLaughlin also talked briefly about the new custody suites which are now under construction at Fairbanks. They will replace the old police lock-up, with segregated cells, allowing officers to keep suspects separate so that they can’t collaborate stories which should “improve our chances of cracking these serious cases”.

However, the premier warned that some new resources and technological crime fighting equipment, such as the CCTV, was driving criminals to seek out new victims, as he advised people to take counter measures to emerging criminal trends to thwart their success.

“The truth is that the criminal element continues to change its modus operandi in ways that reap rewards for it. So that when there is a concerted effort to increase surveillance as a deterrent to robberies for instance, the criminals shift their focus away from businesses that can afford this equipment to smaller operators, who either cannot afford the camera systems or who they believe travel home with the days takings and are vulnerable to attack on leaving their businesses or entering their homes,” he said.

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Science journal details turtle farm cruelty

| 27/09/2013 | 44 Comments

(CNS): Animal welfare issues relating to the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) have been detailed in a scientific report published Friday in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. The report points to the physical injury, disease and abnormal behaviour of turtles at the farm observed by the authors, based on evidence provided by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, a site inspection and research. The findings point to physical and behaviour problems of the sea turtles at the farm being “indicative of problematic management and captivity-related stress,” which the scientists said demonstrated the limitations of turtles to adapt to captivity.

The WSPA, which is continuing its campaign to persuade the CTF to change to a conservation facility, said the report, entitled "Welfare and Environmental Implications of Farmed Sea Turtles", presents a major challenge for the managers of the Cayman Turtle Farm, who had committed to improving conditions for what are now estimated to be around 9,500 turtles in their care.

The report was written by three specialised reptile biologists: Phillip Arena of Murdoch University, Catrina Steedman of the Emergent Disease Foundation, and Clifford Warwick, a London-based biologist and medical scientist who was recently offered the post of Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in recognition of his long career and scientific contributions to reptile welfare and conservation.

“The problematic physical and behavioural signs, in our view, related to the inherent nature of intensive turtle propagation which in particular involves overt- and crypto-overcrowding and under stimulating environments, and an associated failure to meet all the physical, biological and innate behavioural needs of sea turtles,” the authors said in the conclusions about the farm.

The animal welfare charity WPSA said the report tallies with their results following the controversial undercover investigation conducted over a year ago that documented the extent of problems at the Farm, which the CTF has been at pains to deny. However, this latest scientific report also contradicts the farm management’s claims following its own assessment inspection in December, when the farm said there was no strong evidence for WSPA’s concerns about animal welfare.

Talking about the work of the scientists, one of the authors, Clifford Warwick, said that the detailed evidence- based research into farming practices at the farm has highlighted a range of physical and behavioural problems, some of which are extremely serious.

“In our view, these concerns are unresolvable, the Farm simply cannot replicate the turtle’s natural habitat, nor can it meet their biological needs within a captive environment. Also, the transmission of potentially dangerous pathogens from the turtles to the visiting public continues to represent a significant health risk,” he said, adding that the recent changes instituted by the CTF did not alter any of these concerns.

The WSPA campaign to persuade the management to transition the facility away from farming towards conservation continues and has drawn support from over 180,000 people worldwide, as well as a host of animal welfare and conservation organisations. The campaign leader for WSPA, Dr Neil D’Cruze, said the report documents physical and behavioural problems among the marine animals consistent with animal cruelty, which is extremely worrying.

“Despite WSPA raising concerns over a year ago, this new scientific report shows that the turtles are still suffering,” he said. “WSPA has met with the new Caymanian Government and had open and candid talks to ensure that positive steps are taken to help the thousands of sea turtles which continue to suffer at the Cayman Turtle Farm. We hope the new government will learn from the errors of its predecessors and ultimately see that the long term solution for the Cayman Turtle Farm is to become a turtle rehabilitation and release facility,” the charity leader added.

The Turtle Farm has been battling the fallout from the bad publicity since the WSPA’s report went public in October last year. It comes at a time when public attention on the farm has also focused on the massive almost $10 million subsidy provided to the facility every year from an increasingly tight public purse.

Despite the major issues, the CTF enjoyed a bumper year this breeding season and recently cut the price of meat as a result of the increase in production. The farm has also claimed a number of improvements in the conditions and it has now employed a full time vet. 

Responding to the latest report on Friday, the CTF seemed unconcerned and said the findings were a rehash of the previous WSPA report. It accused the charity of trying another publicity attack with what it said was more WSPA-sponsored research.

“This latest article really isn’t saying much of anything the WSPA hasn’t already said before,” said Tim Adam, Managing Director of CTF. “It repeats the same allegations the WSPA made previously citing the same authors, and basically comes across as just another effort by the WSPA to force the Cayman Turtle Farm and the CI Government to completely change the operating model of the CTF since the WSPA campaign has thus far been unsuccessful in achieving that aim.”

Adam said the charity wants to stop turtle farming, stop a legal source of meat, stop public interaction with turtles, and stop the release programmes. 

“Apparently the WSPA has sponsored yet another report hoping it will help them achieve those objectives,” he said, insisting that the farm had been vindicated by it's own inspection last year, despite the extensive photographic evidence of the scientists’ findings to the contrary, and that the turtles were in good shape.

“At the Cayman Turtle Farm we are committed to the health, safety and well-being of both our guests and our animals and we continue to strive for the highest standards in all the key aspects of the work we do – sea turtle reproduction and husbandry, conservation, display and education,” Adam said. “The independent inspection of our operations confirmed the validity of our research and conservation work, and also highlighted areas for improvement. We have worked hard since the publication of the inspection report to address the issues raised by the independent inspectors, and we strive for continued improvements.”

Adam dismissed the latest findings as the same accusations. “We are frankly disappointed that the WSPA continues to repeat their same accusations about the Cayman Turtle Farm in order to damage our reputation and impede our work,” he added.

See full scientific report here.

See CTF full release below.

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Government plans new laws regarding pesticides

| 27/09/2013 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Local farmers and gardeners are being urged by government to re-think the use of pesticides and wherever possible consider alternative strategies to protect their flowers and vegetables from pests Speaking about the benefits but also the significant problems of overuse of pesticides on World Pesticide Awareness Day, Kurt Tibbetts, the planning minister with responsibility for agriculture, said pesticides don’t need to be a first choice and that “a little damage to your plants and imperfections in your garden or vegetables” is not necessarily a bad thing. He said that his ministry was now preparing comprehensive legislation to regulate all aspects of pesticide importation, distribution, use, transport, storage and disposal in the Cayman Islands.

“As citizens and likely users of pesticides I urge you to become more aware and educated of the benefits and risks of pesticides, follow the simple rules, protect yourself and help safeguard the health of our people and environment,” the minister said in his message to mark the annual day earmarked to raise awareness about pesticide use.

“Don’t think of pesticides as your first and only choice. Consider other alternative options and strategies for controlling pest before resorting to pesticides. There will always be pests, zero-tolerance is not the answer, a little damage to your plants and imperfections in your garden or vegetable plot can be tolerated,” Tibbetts said.

See full message below.
 

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TLEPs getting only 45 days

| 27/09/2013 | 107 Comments

(CNS): The more than 1,500 ex-pat workers holding term limit exemption permits that were due to leave the country next month have only been given an extension of 45 days from when they expire, the premier explained Thursday. Despite what he called the propaganda surrounding this issue, Alden McLaughlin has made it clear that all TLEP holders must apply for permanent residency before 9 December. During that 45 day time period their employers will also need to apply for new work permits and to advertise every one of the posts, opening them all to local workers. The country’s new leader said that if there are Caymanians willing and able to do the jobs, permits will not be granted and the ex-pat workers will still have to leave.

However, McLaughlin told a packed room of Chamber members Thursday that around 900 of the TLEP holders were in low paid, low skilled jobs that had not been of interest to local people and that kicking out all of these workers next month instead of taking steps to regularize their status would not translate into 1,500 new jobs for Caymanians.

“The view has also been put abroad that if these 1,500 TLEP holders were sent home that 1,500 Caymanians would find jobs immediately,” he told the gathering at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Lunch yesterday

“The truth is that of this number over 900 are for jobs as domestics, gardeners, caregivers and other jobs which Caymanians have clearly demonstrated they have no interest in filling. It is also worthy of note that, in effect, the TLEPs are only being extended for 45 days, to December 9th.  During this period the jobs will have to be advertised in the usual way and Caymanians will have ample opportunity to apply for these jobs. If a Caymanian is willing and able to do the job, a new work permit will not be granted to the TLEP holder,” he assured the audience.

With controversies mounting over the proposed changes to immigration and the plan to allow this group of workers to stay, McLaughlin explained the motivations behind the decision to allow all TLEP workers to stay past their already extended term.

“The previous government legislated this category into law and ought to have acted on the report it commissioned to regularize the status of this group,” he noted, outlining what his new administration was faced with. “On coming to office, we quickly realized that the term limit for the TLEPs expired on October 28th and we would have to resolve the problem.

“There are just over 1,500 people who fall into this category, all of whom by October 28 will have been living here for more than seven years. In the interest of fairness, the committee who reported to Cabinet on the TLEPs found that it would be discriminatory to treat them any differently than other work permit holders and that time spent here should count towards the eight year requirement that already exists in the law as the point at which an application for permanent residence can be made,” he added.

McLaughlin also warned, as he had at the time when former premier McKeeva Bush proposed the TLEP as a solution to the problem of a mass exodus of more than 2,000 workers, that there was a real possibility that government could be sued. He said there was a danger of legal action on human rights grounds if government allowed a discriminatory system to prevail.

“It was therefore thought advisable to let the new system work to determine whether the TLEPs would be eligible for permanent residence status rather than to expel more than 1,500 people all at once at the end of next month,” he said. “The last thing the country can afford at this time is a rash of law suits claiming human rights abuses. Our reputation in the international community is still too fragile to take this risk.”

With the entire immigration system being overhauled, the new law will allow anyone who comes to Cayman and stays here long enough the right to apply for PR. Only following a PR application refusal that a worker would be forced to leave. If they are fortunate to succeed they will be allowed to live here permanently, if they follow the law, and then go on to apply for status.

He emphasised that under the new regime the pass mark for PR would rise to 60% from current 48% of points available as the process became more robust. Plus, the fee was increasing from $250 to $1000.

With the TLEP issue being tied directly to Cayman’s growing unemployment problem in the public domain, McLaughlin tried hard at the luncheon to dispel that notion as he also pointed to action that his government was taking to address unemployment.

Phase 2 of the immigration changes are expected next year and these will address the work permit process and the recruitment of foreign workers when locals are available, which the premier insists is where the problem lies and not with the workers who have been here for many years. The PPM government is also focusing on the National Workforce Development Agency, which has taken the brunt of criticism as it has appeared incapable of matching unemployed Caymanians to the more than 22,000 jobs out there currently held by ex-pats.

McLaughlin said the Progressive government was taking a proactive approach to placing Caymanians in available jobs through a re-invigorated agency. 

“The agency has a diverse, multi-dimensional series of placement and training programmes, some in partnership with private enterprise, that cover the needs of a wide range of clients who register with them,” he told the Chamber members, but he also noted the part they could play.

“I therefore urge you, as employers, to participate in their programmes and use the services they provide to find Caymanians to fill vacancies you may have in your businesses. Of course, if you can give the government the commitment to each employ at least one new Caymanian over the next six to nine months, this would go a long way to reducing unemployment,” he pointed out.

See list from immigration of posts filled by permit holders – TLEPS are coded as WTG WTR.

Interested parties are urged to contact immigration or the NWDA if they wish to apply for any of the posts currently held by TLEPs.

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IPCC report: humans ‘dominant cause’ of warming

| 27/09/2013 | 29 Comments

(BBC): A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s. The report by the UN's climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change. On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is "unequivocal", it explained. It adds that a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends. The panel warns that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all aspects of the climate system. 

After a week of intense negotiations in the Swedish capital, the summary for policymakers on the physical science of global warming has finally been released.

The first part of an IPCC trilogy, due over the next 12 months, this dense, 36-page document is considered the most comprehensive statement on our understanding of the mechanics of a warming planet. It states baldly that, since the 1950s, many of the observed changes in the climate system are "unprecedented over decades to millennia".

Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface, and warmer than any period since 1850, and probably warmer than any time in the past 1,400 years.

"Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and that concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased," said Qin Dahe, co-chair of IPCC working group one, who produced the report.

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Premier: ‘Bill misunderstood’

| 27/09/2013 | 57 Comments

(CNS): The premier defended his proposed immigration changes Thursday, maintaining that some people misunderstood what the reforms were meant to achieve and what the result would be, and he accused some of spreading falsehoods about the changes. In the face of a planned rally next month against the immigration amendment bill tabled last week, Alden McLaughlin said it was the democratic right of people to demonstrate but he really hoped that they would take time to understand the changes and the bill's intent. Admitting that there had been much internal discussion in government around the bill, he said his Cabinet was not split and he was confident of safe passage once it reached the floor of the LA. 

Nevertheless, the premier raised concerns about the current opposition to the bill during his presentation at the Chamber of Commerce annual legislator’s lunch.

“It has not escaped my attention that either through ignorance or mischief there are people who have been playing on the emotions of Caymanians to try to convince them that their interests are not being protected by the Amendments to the Immigration Bill,” the premier stated.

He said that the rollover policy had not been abolished, even though all ex-pats will now be allowed to stay long enough to apply for permanent residency, and said those who are refused PR will still be rolled out. McLaughlin said the term limit was not being removed but extended from seven years to nine for all work permit holders. What has been abolished, the premier said, is the key employee status, which will level the playing field for permit holders.

“The change means that all work permit holders will be treated in the same way,” he said. “Under the current system, it is the employer who makes the determination as to who is a key employees and who can stay beyond the seven years to eventually qualify in terms of time spent on island to apply for permanent residence. By extending the length of time a work permit holder can remain to nine years and allowing all work permit holders who reach eight years to apply for permanent residence, government can now decide through an open and transparent points system who will be granted permanent resident status rather than having this determined by employers, he told the audience of Chamber members.

Speaking to the press after the lunch presentation, McLaughlin said that the new PR point system would change and be more robust. He said applicants would require 110 points instead of the current 100 to qualify and more factors would be considered.

The premier said that, despite the debate and the opposition from some quarters, he believed that the majority of peoplewere in support of the changes and that they would see that this would not “open the flood gates” for all ex-pat and permit holders to become Caymanian. He said that although the criteria for PR would be fairer, it would be more stringent and therefore everyone would not get through.

In the face of the planned rally, McLaughlin said he hoped that when people saw the reality of the situation they would come to a different view as their fears will not be realized, and said their concerns were entirely unfounded. However, if government believed there were significant numbers of people opposed to what was happening, it was prepared to listen to those concerns.

“We have paid attention to concerns all along,” he said, adding that this was why government had pulled back from the original ten year limit and why it was clamping down on what have been seen as fraudulent job descriptions by employers, designed to tailor jobs to specific individuals.

McLaughlin said that the real problems for Caymanians were happening at the other end of the process, when employers were seeking ways to employ ex-pats in the first place while Caymanians were available, and that would be part of the next phase of reform.

“The entire immigration and work permit application process is being strengthened and protections built in to protect the integrity of the system,” he added.

The premier said he would be talking widely over the next few days about the various specific provisions of the bill ahead of the debate in the Legislative Assembly.

The strategy to reform the immigration policy was to make it more responsive to the employment needs of Caymanians, he added, while at the same time ensuring that the labour needs of the market are adequate to service the areas where Caymanians are either not qualified or not available.

McLaughlin stressed, “Immigration legislation is, among other things, used to protect the jobs of the local population.” But he added, “It is not, in and of itself, employment legislation,” as he emphasised that the government was also tackling unemployment through the National Workforce and Development Agency and various other initiatives.

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Cops to get new-lock up

| 26/09/2013 | 17 Comments

(CNS): Following the damning findings in last year’s report from the UK’s prison inspectorate that condemned the George Town lock-up as unfit for human habitation, government has taken a step towards addressing the situation. The new PPM administration is investing $2.1 million in a new modern police custody suite to house up to 24 remand prisoners following their arrest in the Fairbanks area of George Town. The state of the current lock-up at the main police station is a serious human rights risk for government, has poor security, is unsafe for both staff and inmates and poses problems for police investigations because criminal suspects cannot be separated.  

As the new home affairs minister, Premier Alden McLaughlin led a groundbreaking ceremony at the site Thursday morning, signalling the start of construction on the crown land. Situated next to the women’s prison at Fairbanks and the plot where the now stalled young offenders institute had been planned, the unit will be built on land where government trailers had been located in the wake of Hurricane Ivan to house the homeless. As a result, the site already has a cistern and septic system in place and is appropriately zoned.

McLaughlin said that the construction of the new and humane lockup system would “right a wrong” that had existed for too long and “replace the miserable cells at the George Town and West Bay Police Stations” with a human rights compliant facility.

Pointing out that the constitution requires that anyone deprived of their liberty has the right to be treated with humanity, the premier said the cells currently in use in George Town, which are more like cages, were “sweltering”, reaching temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. The cells hold people who are not convicted of a crime but who are merely suspects and being questioned in connection with a crime.

“This is an important step in making us compliant with our own Bill of Rights and, at the end of the day, it is simply the right thing to do,” the premier said to the small gathering present for the groundbreaking.

David Baines, the police commissioner, has been asking government for a new custody suite since he arrived in Cayman in June 2009 and said he was delighted that the RCIPS will have the use of the facility by early next year, with full completion around November. Aside from the need to hold those who have not been charged with any crimes in far more humane conditions than presently on offer, Baines explained that the police are, more often than not, also the ones to take responsibility for troubled mental health patients.

He said that it was not unusual for people suffering from mental health problems who become a danger to themselves or others to be taken to the police lock-ups in the first instance until other arrangements can be made for their security. The new suite will offer far more suitable facilities for that, Baines explained.

From an investigation perspective, he explained that the current situation can seriously undermine police enquiries because it is impossible to keep prisoners secure and apart at the George Town lock-up. In circumstances such as those that the police encountered just this week, where four young men were arrested at the same time for an armed robbery, it was almost impossible to keep the suspects apart at the central lock-up, facilitating their ability to ”get their stories straight”, Baines noted.

Describing the squalid and dangerous conditions at the lock-up, Baines said he was surprised that there had not been far more incidences of prisoners harming themselves in the cage-like cells, as they posed a serious risk for vulnerable or dangerous offenders.

The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs has already tendered the project via the Central Tenders Committee for the design, build, delivery and installation of the modular facilities. The contract has been awarded to Eagle Construction, a company with years of experience in designing and delivering high quality secure detention facilities and meeting tight budget and time constraints. The modular unit is now being constructed overseas and will be shipped to Grand Cayman for assembly.

Eric Bush, the chief officer in the Home Affairs Ministry, gave assurances that the facility would not be a repeat of the situation with the juvenile institution and would be completed. The planned secure unit for young offenders is now on hold and a temporary facility is being constructed at HMP Northward. Although the foundations have been laid for the proposed youth facility, in the next plot to where the new custody suite will go, it is currently on hold due to the costs of theproject.

Bush also explained that because the new suite can hold up to 24 prisoners at a time, some suspects remanded by the courts and awaiting trial will also be housed there. The chief officer said that, at present, there are forty people being held by the prison system on remand who have been charged with crimes and are awaiting trial, mostly at Northward.

Cayman's Bill of Rights, however, requires that remand prisoners who are arrested suspects or charged defendants but who have not been convicted be separated from offenders who have gone through the court system and been found guilty.

The new facility will separate male, female and juvenile prisoners who have been arrested or charged. Each individual closed off cell will be human rights compliant, with two bunks and an in-room toilet and sink.

See UK inspectorate’s report regarding the current police lock ups below.

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Robber jailed for 3 years for bakery hold-up

| 26/09/2013 | 19 Comments

(CNS): A young man was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for his part in a robbery with a flare gun at the Caribbean Bakery in West Bay more than three years ago. Derrick Simpson Jr sat in the prisoner's dock alone, since his alleged co-conspirator, Dan Kelly, had jumped bail before a schedule trial earlier this year. Simpson had initially denied committing the robbery but eventually entered guilty pleas in August of this year. Despite Simpson's immaturity and what was said to be a more minor involvement in the crime, visiting judge, Justice Alastair Malcolm said that it was his duty to protect small shopkeepers from this type of crime.

Simpson was only 17 at the time of the robbery, which took place on a rainy day in September 2010, while his alleged co-conspirator, Kelly, was just 21. The two young men were said to have held up the bakery with a flare gun and made off with $400 from the shop’s cash register. Kelly was reportedly captured on the CCTV footage holding the flare gun while he told the female cashier to open the till, and Simpson was seen placing the cash in a bag before fleeing by foot through the bushes, the court heard.

Defense counsel Guy Dillaway-Parry submitted to the judge that there were many mitigating features in the case. He pointed out the tender age of his client at the time of the offence and the obvious influence of an older and more "criminally sophisticated" person. He said that Simpson contributed almost nothing to the unorganized hold-up that day.

The judge accepted that the young man had acted out of his normal character and played a lesser role in the robbery than Kelly but he pointed out that the crime was more frightening for the employee who was the victim as there were two robbers.

Handing down his sentence, the judge said he understood the reason for Simpson's late guilty plea because he did not want to stand trial alone when he had not committed the robbery by himself. Despite this being Simpson’s first serious offence, the judge ordered a three year custodial sentence to the now 20-year-old offender.

The court heard that Kelly was recently located in the United Kingdom and efforts are currently being made by officials to extradite him back to the Cayman Islands as soon as possible so he can also answer for his alleged part in the bakery stick-up.

Related article on CNS:

Robbery suspect jumps bail

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