Baines takes up top cop reins

| 31/05/2009

(CNS): Having arrived on island last week, the new permanent commissioner of police, David Baines, takes up his post today (Monday 1 June) following the departure of Acting Commissioner James Smith. Baines said when he arrived that he was under no illusions about the scale of the job but he was looking forward to it, while the departing Smith said he hoped he had at least addressed some of the issues before he left.

“It is with regret that I am leaving the RCIPS this week. I arrived during an unsettling time for officers and staff and I leave hoping that I managed to ease some of the issues being faced by the Service as a whole and by some individuals. During my time here, I have been extremely impressed by the resilience, dedication and commitment of staff who work in a very demanding environment. There are still challenges ahead, and I wish everyone I have worked with the very best for the future as the Service continues to grow and develop,” added Smith, who was unsuccessful in his application for the top cop post for a second time as he had also been beaten out in 2005 by former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan.

Smith arrived in Cayman in December of last year following the sudden departure of Royce Hipgrave, who served as acting commissioner for less than 48 hours. It is understood he was not fully informed of the situation regarding the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) until he arrived on island and it is also believed he had concerns about the lack of full indemnity insurance for senior officers serving in the RCIPS.

Baines, who will be the sixth person to take up the post in less than fifteen months, has come to the Cayman Islands from his postas Assistant Chief Constable with the Cheshire Constabulary and he said he was going to do his best to take things forward and improve policing in Cayman. “I am looking forward to making a difference to people’s lives,” he told CITN. “I had a fairly limited introduction to the islands when I came during the selection process, but what I did find was a lot of really keen people anxious to do a good job and desperate to improve and put the problems that have besmirched the name of the RCIPS behind them.”

Baines will now be taking up the responsibility for the special police investigation and will also have to deal with the legal action filed by Campbells regarding the suspension and dismissal of the former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and the alleged unlawful arrest of former police inspector Burman Scott.

Although Smith had known SIO Martin Bridger, the former metropolitan police officer who was heading up SPIT, from the UK, he did instigate Bridger’s departure from the island at the behest of the previous administration. However, he also initiated the so-called second phase of the special investigation, which he named Operation Cealt, which is reportedly investigating allegations and information that was given to SPIT over the last 18 months regarding alleged corruption in the RCIPS. The new SIO of that investigation is Anne Lawrence, but Baines will still remain in charge of SPIT as they have all been sworn in as special constables.

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