Fixed fines for low level crime

| 25/01/2010

(CNS): Those who are arrested for low level or petty offences, such as possession of small amounts of ganja, shoplifting, disorderly conduct and other non-violent crimes, will soon be offered the opportunity to admit their guilt at the police station, pay a fixed penalty fine and avoid facing a courtroom ordeal. David Baines, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service commissioner, has said he has been discussing this issue with the attorney general and chief justice and hopes to introduce the system soon to help ease the pressure on the criminal justice system.

Baines said there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed in order to get to grips with Cayman’s crime situation and the pressure on the courts. The introduction of a fixed penalty system would remove a considerable amount of petty crime from the court case load and allow the criminal justice system to focus on more serious offences.

Speaking at the recent Cayman Business Outlook, the commissioner also observed the problem of an underclass in Cayman where the crime was breeding, and he said the country also needed to look at the causes of crime as well as tackling the crime as it occurred.

“We have an underclass of individuals who don’t share in the prosperity of the Cayman Islands,” he said. Whether it was because of education or other reasons these people were excluded from the wealth, but these young people were part of the country and its future. “We need to hook these children away from where they are and get them to join in. If they have no hope, how can we expect them to follow society’s norms?”

He said he hoped that the police would be working more closely with the schools and social services to address the causes of crime and give people a stake in the future. “People might say that’s woolly but I’ve got to put police in schools to stop this as well as put hard hitting teams out there to bring in those who are beyond saving,” he explained, adding that his goal was to balance hard-edge policing with community policing.

Asked what he was doing to address the spike in crime, Baines explained the “here and now” was to get in between the gangs, which were responsible for the recent spate of shootings. The CoP said that, while he was aware of the perception that the road blocks were only about traffic tickets, he said that was not their primary goal. “The road blocks are about getting in between the gangs and keeping them apart,” he said, explaining that they also provided an opportunity to search for drugs and weapons, and target individual criminals. But, he added, officers would not ignore those coming through blocks who were breaking the law, either as a result of speeding or DUI.

He also said the service was focusing on ensuring that the right people were in place with the right skills and he was focusing on the necessary changes in legislation to address the problem of reluctant witnesses and to build confidence so people could give evidence to the court.

Baines also suggested that the spike in crime was not out of control and blamed the media for fuelling the situation. He said the increase in crime at the end of 2009 was only 9% up on 2008. The total he explained is an increase of 250 crimes. However, keen to stress 600 crimes less than 2007. “The headlines are starting to drive public perceptions,” he added.

The senior officer admitted there was a need to focus what he described as “the limited resources” of the service, which meant training staff as well as filling the key vacancies. However, Baines said that there was little point in adopting modern policing methods if these were not developed in tandem with modernized judicial processes such as the fixed penalties to reduce case delays, as well as the need for the new courthouse. He said when justice was delayed victims turned away from blaming perpetrators of crime and began to blame the system.

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  1. Sink hole troll says:

    Don’t be too keen on fixed penalty fines they lead to this sort of thing:


    A BUSINESSMAN has been fined by cops for blowing his nose in a car.

    Dad-of-two Michael Mancini pulled out a tissue while he was stuck in stationary traffic – with his handbrake on.

    But he was given a £60 fixed penalty notice for "not being in control of his vehicle".

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a good idea and will help ease the case loads that often are for petty crimes. Let us start supporting the RCIPS as this can only be of a positive benefit for Cayman. I’m often critical of them and other law enforcement services yet I don’t know what it is like to be in that position where you’re constantly critisized by the public even when you’re doing a good job to best of your ability.

    I would suggest that we legalize a certain limit of ganja consumption per person as similar to Australia, Switzerland and Holland where there’s low crime and focus more on stiffer penalties for hard drugs and crimminal offences. We all need to work together to make Cayman a safer and better place to live and work.

    • Anonymous says:

      "I would suggest that we legalize a certain limit of ganja consumption per person "

      It would just increase illegal imports

  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe the COP is well informed about his Police Force/Service…  I think it is a great idea what he is impossing to do. For those people who believe that this will cause corruption who knows?  This has been a long time coming and if people believe that a fixed fine for ganja is like a a traffic ticket thats a bunch of crap.  We are not going to stop people from smoking weed it’s goes back to Bible days and probably alot of Law enforcement now do turn a blind eye because of the work load it would take to prosecute a case for a spliff.  So I’m with the Commissioner of Police for imposing fines on minor offences. If we imposing a fixed fine you would see how many people on this Island actually smoke weed. I don’t know how much it actually cost to prosecute a case for a few grams of ganja but think about the total cost, having the drugs tested the officers time, the courts time etc…. to appear in court for a $300.00 fine I’m sure it cost more to investigate that what the fines are???

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the concept of giving fines out immediately for certain offences, however I’m wondering if any of these will be actually enforced.  I am speaking particularly about traffic offences…

    This morning, as every morning I was driving to work at approximately 7:15 a.m.  I have to make a right off of Marina Drive and sit in the traffic waiting to pass thru the round-about off of Shamrock Road prior to getting to the Hurley’s round-about.  Almost every day there are people who pass the waiting line and drive (in the wrong lane) down Shamrock and use the turning lanes designated for people coming out of the Lighthouse and Red Bay Primary Schools, to bypass the line of legitimate traffic.

    This morning there was a RCIPS motorcycle officer sitting at the afore mentioned intersection.  Instead of pulling the drivers over that were using the lanes illegally, he actually sat there and allowed people to BACK UP INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC and drive through the grassy area to cut in front of people still waiting to enter the round-about.

    I waited while 4 people did this and the officer did not bat an eye, or give these people a ticket or warning.

    So, back to my original question…will anyone actuelly be ticketed for these "minor offences" or will the RCIPS turn a blind eye in order to cut down on their workload?


    Thank You

  5. Anonymous says:

    “The road blocks are about getting in between the gangs and keeping them apart,”

    What’s the logic behind it?  Does he actually believe this?  I would have prefered him not to make up bad excuses.

  6. Joe Bananas says:

    Great Idea!  This will start helping out the crime situation immediately and help with the speed and cost of persecution.  Lots of people here believe it is their right to do crime. Now they can pay the cost instead of everyone else.

    Speaking of the criminally inclined I think it shows Caymans long standing tolerance of Crime and the great percentage of those who believe crime is OK by the number of anti police rants, and complaints about post like this.

    This shows the police are doing their job.  Keep up the good work.

  7. Anonymous1 says:

    I agree to certain extent but corruption is bad enough now.  Now they turn a blind eye to certain things.  In a certain country, cops will tell you to pay them x amount of dollars and they won’t give you a ticket.  We have plenty cops from that country in our police force. 

    The fixed amount charge might help because they have to go to court over there so they don’t know how much they will pay.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Do the crime and you’ll pay the fine or do the time 🙂

    In traffic court you either pay or do time.

    "$50 or 10 days"


  9. Anonymous says:

    Fixed penalty fines for trafic offences, GREAT! — but for shoplifting, disorderly conduct, and possession of ILLEGAL DRUGS, you must bejoking.  We all know that If the RCIPS andthe Courts were properly funded, this "soft" approach to dealing with the perpetrators of the crime wave currently sweeping Cayman would not be necessary. 

    And as for road blocks: does the RCIPS now have an official "stop and search" policy?  By its very nature, this policy involves racial or ethnic profiling with all the associated human rights implications.  Plus, evidence from the UK suggest that only 11% of stops under the current "standard" stop-and-search powers result in arrests for any offence at all, however minor. Only 3% of stops result in an arrest for possession of an offensive weapon, and fewer than 1% of stops finds any sort of firearm. 

    There are things that can be done about teenage violence: tackling school exclusion, funding youth groups, offering support for schools and parents. But those are boring, unglamorous, and take a long time.  Instead, Cayman is going for bursts of policing theatre that have no evidence to support their effectiveness. Road blocks are just  "Crime Prevention Bling," and coming from the UK, Mr. Baines should know better.

    • Sherlock says:

      I’m all for roadblocks, and these fixed penalties. I have one more suggestion to keep people out of the courts unless they deserve it, and that is for non-speeding motoring offences, use the VDRS scheme from the UK. Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme. You still get stopped, and if for instance you have a defective brake light, or windscreen wipers that don’t work, you are given a form, similar to a ticket, which gives you 14 days to get the defect fixed, take the car to a vehicle testing station, get the form stamped to certify the defect is repaired, and then if the police get the form back before 14 days, no further action is taken. If not, you get summoned to court as usual. That would stop many of the people going to traffic court for crappy offences, add to public acceptance, because they haven’t had a ticket (no financial fine…), but have been ‘given a break’.

      More importantly, it keeps more work away from the kindergarten that is the legal department here, surely singularly the least effective government department, and would free up much court time, unless people just choose not fix the car. But a ticket doesn’t get the defect fixed, even a potentially dangerous defect, but the VDRS does, so even safety is improved. Win win? maybe, but the summonses also have to be served but some of these could be captured at relicense/insurance/inspection etc, or the cops could actually get out there and do it….

      am i dreaming now? Queue the mocking comments, but I’m  just trying to help….

    • Profiler says:

      The best thing about racial and ethnic profiling – they work.

  10. 4 real says:

    You think corruption is bad put this in the hands of some of the current leadership ooooooooooooh weeeeee.  They will be driving benz’s at the end of each work week, all jokes aside a formal process could work providing you get discipline and honest officers managing such a system. However it shows Baines is coming up with some excellent ideas and solutions, well done sir.

  11. John Evans says:

    On the spot fines are a very cost effective of handling minor offences but whether or not they actually deal with the problems is open to question.

    Where I live in the UK they tend to be regarded as just part of the cost of a night out – some times those involved get caught, others they don’t. In simple terms their impact on crime is negligible.

    About all they did was up the crime enforcement statistics.

    As a result local police have turned to other, more subtle methods to change public attitiudes.


  12. Anonymous says:

    Ganja is the start of all of Cayman’s crime problems.  Possession should equal jail not the equivalent of a glorified speeding ticket.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you say ganja is the start of all Cayman’s crime? People in Cayman are just ignorant alcoholics. When have you heard of someone smoking weed and going on a rampage?

      Look at the Netherlands where they have a relaxed policy on natural "drugs". They have one of the lowest crime rates in the world. This is a fact that anyone can check online.

      Criminals make money offering products you cannot find anywhere else. Thats why marijuana is assosciated with crime and violence. Look at when the U.S. went through prohibition. Chicago, Detroit, New York and many southern states where moonshiners produced "illegal booze" exploded with a violent crime wave. (Anyone remember Al Capone?)

      The CDC has facts showing that hundreds of thousands of people die each year from prescription drug abuse and alcohol abuse yet not one death attributed to the consumption of weed.

      • Anonymous says:

        I know plenty people who’s spirit has been murdered by weed.  They lay around and do nothing all day because they have no motivation.  They might as well be dead, because they’re pretty worthless individuals to society at large.  Good people too when they’re not high – but that’s not that often.

        Is ganja a ‘dangerous’ drug?  I guess that all depends on how you look at it.

    • The Conscious Party says:

      Ganja is not the problem. It’s the recreational cocaine abuse that is so evident when you go to the clubs.

      The Ganja users barely use cocaine, consciousness prevails. But the alcohol abusers and club/house dancers/party goers, can’t do a night without.

      Just go to the clubs, conduct your own surveillance. It’s real easy to spot the cokeheads.

      The Conscious Party


  13. young cents says:

    I support the comissioner on this. I know of a case where a young lady was arrested for consumption of ganja. In this particular case she was in no possession but was under the influence and admitted her guilt when confronted by the officers in her back yard. She had recently returned from college where she was prescribed medical marijuana for severe PMS as she was allergic to most "drugs" that the docs prescribed. She only used marijuana when she needed for her symptoms and was not a recreational user. She did not tell the police her history because she was afraid it would only make matters worse so she just admitted her guilt and accepted whatever penalties. She spent the entire weekend in jail. She had to pay for a lawyer which was hundreds of dollars. She also lost her job because her case was reported in the news paper.

    Two weeks after being arrested she was very badly beaten in a domestic dispute. The offender was taken to the lockup and released the very next morning. Their sentence was also much lighter than the sentence that the young lady received for "consumption".

    Cayman is hurting in a major way financially. Why lock up non-violent drug offenders and have to pay to feed and house them? It makes no sense(cents). We lock up these people for something they do in the privacy of their own homes yet we can not lock up the violent members of society who commit murder, rape (look at how long Estella’s case is taking), or violent acts such shootings ect.

    Maybe if police didn’t have to respond to every call about the smell of ganja they might actually be able to spend some time taking these guns off the streets. I have faith in our policeservice I just think they are spread too thin to be effective. The last time I checked guns were killing our young people. I challenge anyone to find research that proves marijuana has killed anyone naturally. Sure some people have done stupid things while under the influence (including drive) and caused their demise. Not one death worldwide has been attributed to someone smoking too much weed. Yet you take a bottle of Tylenol and that will be the last headache you ever have! Alcohol kills dozens of Caymanians each year also!

    I think the fines are a great idea and helps get Cayman out of the financial trouble we are now in. If we locked up everyone who abused drugs both legal and illegal then we would need a prison in each district and more than half the island would be in prison!

  14. Anonymous says:

    If managed properly this could be a good thing but I am not sure that any form of drug crime should be included on the list. The weed heads will be rubbing their hands in glee of this news.

    • Anonymous says:

      I sincerely doubt they’d be rubbing their hands together with glee as it would really hurt to have to pay a fine of a substantial amount!

      I think it’s a brilliant idea and they can then rub elbows with the likes of people who appear in court for running a stop sign or not wearing a seatbelt.

      I say Mr. Baines is one smart guy!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well. The majority of the cases seem to be drug users. So maybe that should be included up to a certain amount.

      It should work for small drug amounts if the fine is say $5,000 and if the person chooses to go to trial then no bail until the trial and the minimum sentence if found guilty changed to 5 years plus a $5,000 fine.

      That should cut down on the problem and bring some revenue to Govt at the same time.


  15. Twyla Vargas says:

    I WOULD REALLY SUPPORT  a fixed penalty for low level crimes, and the idea of having them dealt with at the police station.  However,  I am also left to wonder if offenders will take this as a pat on the hand and re-commit.

    Offenders are afraid of going before a judge in court, no matter how small the offence.

    Then again on the other hand, the same effect may occur knowing that they will loose half or all of a weeks pay check.  It will save court time and the offenders time too.  Nothing beats a trial but a failure, so I say go for it.

  16. Anonymouse says:

    Food for thought: few years ago the solution to reduce driving offences was to make even the minor ones come to court, to add social insult to the injury of the fine.

  17. Sword of Gideon says:

    I guarantee that these discussions have not just been held in public places and on the public dime.

    All of the players in this story are actually freemasons, some of whom go back many, many years in the Jamaican Lodge. There are several flavours of masons in Cayman, and believe it or not some of them are real tight with organised religion.

    I said that to say this, the lower level masons actually believe that they are doing society a favour by having their secret meetings, wearing their fancy regalia and swearing their secret oaths. It is a fact that if a freemason is a judge and sees a brother on trial, he is obliged to get him acquitted, guilty or not.

    Either the Caymanian people will come out of the closet and declare their allegiance to these people or they will not, but at least they should be given a chance, and isn’t that what the free press is for?

    The agenda is as follows, to allow crime to escalate to high levels, to increase the size of the police force and then to impose the rule of law upon the people the majority of whom are law abiding.

    Dear CNS, please check the veracity of my statements and let the people decide. Unfortunately, as long as the way of life here is to get rich or die trying, no one will really care anyway.

    It should be mandatory for anyone in public office to declare openly any allegiance to a secret society that he/she is a member of. Well it should be if you want my vote. I need to know where you really stand.

    Well, I haven’t slandered anyone, nor lied, but said something that throws true insight on the current crime situation. Please publish me. Thanks.

  18. Sherlock says:

    What a fantastic idea to help catch the Cayman Islands with the rest of the world. Mr. Baines really does appear to be the man to sort this place out. This is another excellent, and not too expensive scheme, like educating new officers, that will improve life for all of us. Best of all, it removes the self-promoting but ultimately hopeless legal dept from the process.  Backthis man, give him the support he needs to completely bring you the police service you deserve.

    Try not to just criticise everything he does or doesn’t do, because he has basically s**t materials to work with from established deputy down to constable level with very few exceptions.

    Embrace change Cayman, because what has gone before or is in place now, isn’t working right now, even if it has before.

    • Anonymous says:

      A totally fantastic idea!  For too long paid fines for committing crimes have not even come close to covering the expense that these cases cost the courts.

      Go for it people!!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    next it will be ASBO"s,  fixed penalty fines and asbos do not work………look at the uk……cayman next….

  20. Anonymous says:

    why dont the government bring in the 3 strikes and your out system? 3 offences against law and order and a mandatory 25 yrs, bingo. maybe invest in a proper facility to hold prisoners in too maybe?

  21. Anonymous says:

    This plan should also include seat belt offences. Its silly to waste court time on fixed $75.00 fines

    • Anon says:

      Yup. That’s a standard on the spot fine in the UK – and should be here too.  I’d be surprised if Mr Baines didn’t have this included on his instant fines list.

      Mr Baines, a damn good, long overdue idea.  You’ve only been here 6 months or so, and you’ve hardly been given a fair chance yet.  I had faith in you when you arrived, and you are starting to prove my faith wasn’t misplaced.  I am still hoping for much more though.  You’ve had your chance to settle in, you’ve had a chance to assess the department, now its time to start implementing the changes that we need.

  22. heavy cake says:

    what’s the charge for Leaders/MLA’s who sell Caymanian status/PR’s i think that is a huge crime.

  23. Anonymous says:

    excellent points delivered in a proffesional and clear way! I really hope the  fixed penalty fine system gets implemented and maybe the traffic law will get looked at in a similar way too! Well done!

  24. Anonymous says:

    OK, so….. these scumbags get arrested for whatever, drugs, theft, robbery etc, then confess ok o k i did it officer, they get a fine and walk away? who pays the fine? i know they will  NEVER PAY. NEXT IDEA?

  25. Hats off to Mr.Baines,yes there needs to be a way of handling these minor situations here and now, why boggle down the system with minor things that can be handled at the station or pay at the court house.As an example someone with a minor offense has to wait a year or two before its brought to court, main while they have to report to the police station at least once a week to prove that they are still on island or alive.Why if you are caught with a ganga cigarette you have to wait and wait for months and report at the same time. I dont condone smoking it, but lets be honest,put a law in effect that if they do get caught they pay a fine but,if they  have more than three offences they will be  charged and may possibly do jail time.Now just for a ganga cigarette I do not beleive that it should go on their records that will not allow them to travel just because they smoked a joint, this happened to my friend for one joint. The police will not clear it off her record.

    As for the road blocks, do not appoligise for this, the only ones that will complain will be the ones that do not have a license, registration,insurance or have something to hide, so as for me and my house, go ahead and do the road blocks, if they work more power to you.

    Yes as for the perpetraitors, they need some one to blame so the easiest one would be the police. I want to be safe so do your jobs.