Law’s ‘arm’ getting longer

| 01/04/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News, Cayman laws(CNS):  Law enforcement agencies will be getting more powers over the coming months as the legal department works on revisions to existing legislation, which government hopes will help make the long arm of the law longer to help police and prosecutors fight crime. From the introduction of CCTV cameras in public places to the right of police to take more samples from suspects, the powers given to the RCIPS under the Police Bill and the Criminal Evidence Law will be increased. Defendants will also lose the right to silence without negative inference and the defence may be forced to disclose their case to the crown before a trial starts. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

The governor said on Tuesday that he is overseeing legislative changes, which he says will be tools to help law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system tackle the unprecedented levels of violent crime gripping the Cayman Islands.

Speaking at a press briefing regarding the work of the National Security Council, Duncan Taylor said there had been a number of meetings with members of the criminal justice system at what legal measures can be taken to make it easier for the police and prosecutors to do their jobs.

Acting Attorney General Cheryl Richards QC (above) explained that the Legal Department was looking at how legislation could be modernised and made more effective. The key law which is currently being worked on is the draft police bill, which, she said, will modernise certain provisions in the existing law that define critical things, such as how and when and which intimate and non intimate samples the RCIPS can take, the conditions for search warrants, and when police can test suspects for drugs. Richards explain that these powers could be widened to cover more offences and circumstances.

The country’s leading prosecutor also explained that the law would be changed to allow for tape and video recorded interviews and establish the codes of practice and legal procedures for that.

Changes to a defendant’s right to remain silent are also going to be made, she warned. “The law will provide for inferences to be drawn with regards to the silence of a defendant and the refusal or failure to account for objects, substances or marks on a person suspected of an offence,” she said. Richards explained that the police would be able to ask suspected offenders to give an account for things in their possession or why they were at a given location, and when asked, if they could not give an account, the court or jury might then draw inferences from that refusal. She said that this would be balanced with a warning and an opportunity to consult an attorney.

Both Richards and Police Commissioner David Baines suggested that this would have to be in the context of a crime having taken place at the location or for the suspect to be in possession of something that the officer has reasonable suspicion is connected with that crime. “It would have to be within the context of an investigation into a crime,” Baines said, inferring that the police could not just stop anyone and ask them what they were doing in a given location.

Richards said many of the proposed changes to the Police Bill and the Criminal Evidence Law were being drawn from existing UK legislation and the Legal Department was also looking at the issue of defence disclosure to the crown, which could mean an accused would have to provide his case in response to the crown’s case before the judge or jury hears it.

Richards also talked about the introduction of enforced judge-alone trials because of intimidation of witnesses and jurors. At present, defendants can elect a judge-alone trial. Enforced judge-alone trials have been introduced in the UK but only in the most extreme of cases, in particular terrorist trials relating to Northern Ireland.

“We would have to consider and consult and look at all possible implications in balancing the public interest and the right of an election by a defendant,” Richards said.

The department is also examining what other special measures can be taken to protect for vulnerable witnesses, Richards revealed. She said witnesses could be vulnerable for any number of reasons, including their age, from being a victim, or out of fear and intimidation. She described how witnesses could be disguised or how they could give anonymous evidence in a trial.

Despite the fact that the Human Rights Commission was not consulted regarding the anonymity bill, Richards said that it was the intention to consult the HRC with regards to any further changes to legislation affecting the rights of a defendant and consideration would be given to minimising the unintended consequences.

“We are hopeful with a wide range of legislation that we will be able to arrive at the appropriate balance, “Richards said.

The introduction of CCTV cameras across Cayman has also been widely discussed in the community, with some 75 possible sites identified. However, Richards explained that they could not be installed until legislation on how the video tape will be accounted for and by whom in a court of law and who would decide what those cameras will be focused on.

The commissioner described the potential use of CCTV as “a godsend”, but Richards explained that, at present, when footage is used from private locations in the courts the evidence is admitted through the owner of that property, who can vouch for the veracity of the film. The authorities will now have to find a way of providing the same provenance for footage taken in the public arena for it to become admissible.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need to get back to basic law enforcement, start with the minor infractions of the law and work your way up.  When these law breakers see that all aspect of the law is important from riding without lights on a bicycle, littering, to parking derelict vehicles on the side of the road and building without permission all the way to more serious offenses like murder, kidnappings and other others. Then and only then will law enforcement be effective.   Until our law enforcement officers get serious about crime and stop turning a blind eye and truly prosecute all crimes big and small,  crimes will and can only get worst.

    It would be a good idea and maybe less expensive to monitor law enforcement officers to see who is carrying out their duties to the letter of the law.  Evil prevails when good men do nothing.. I am not saying our law enforcement is not doing their jobs but maybe they could put just a little more effort and stop turning a blind eye, I see this happening too often.


    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely agree. So many people miss this basic point. The most minor infractions are hugely significant in the overall scheme of things. One thing leads to another. Officers, please enforce the (the people’s) law!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Still wont get any convictions!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    What is being considered on the punishment side?

    Will all prisoners have to work for their room and board or can they just lay around watching TV, receiving 3 meals per day, and free medical?

    Will hard labor be introduced to punish serious crime or to deal with repeat offenders?

    Something has to be done to force potential offenders think a lot more before they break the law.


  4. Mike Hennessy says:

    This is a truly bad idea.  It undermines the Golden Thread of Common Law justice: the presumption of innocence.  The way to build confidence in the legal system is not by making the job of the police "easier."  As an earlier poster noted, recording interrogations made for better police work and more convictions in the U.K.  In the U.S. the Miranda warning, which requires defendents to be read their rights after being arrested made for better police work and more convictions.  Lowering the bar for police work will simply accelerate the decline in public confidence and do nothing to improve the standard of police work.  As Benjamin Franklin warned the Continental Congress, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    The end result of this legislation will be less freedom and no reduction in crime and less co-operation with police.   

  5. Anonymous says:

    I do not support the increase in police powers which will likely lead to abuse. The police are really not the brightest and people need to know there are already a lot of abuses that are happening. STOP THESE AMENDMENTS!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Crime is presently rampant and the criminals are having a field day. We need teeth to deal with the abundance of crime we are presently faced with.

      If the Police uses the legislation for abusive purpose we can deal with it then, but for now we need teeth and the sooner we give it to the Police the sooner we can expect them to bite the criminals.

      If you are a law abiding citizen you have nothing to fear.

      If you are not then I can understand your fears.

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        Re: “If the Police uses the legislation for abusive purpose we can deal with it then”

        Would you please explain how a regular resident will be able to “deal with it”, as you put it?

  6. Plato says:

    Wrong. Just dead wrong. We need to protect the good citizens of this country. Too many scum bags and not enough laws.

  7. Anonymous says:


    The comish says CCTV would be a godsend sounds good that way he can cut the force in half and when crime happens just play the video!!

    wasn’t there a barage of CCTV in the night club killing and that case is solved?

  8. LB says:

    Next step is Pre Crime Minority Report and the "Thought Police" Hand it over Cayman its all over. this is why some people need to be held responsible and accountable for this Bull@&#* Look where we are Cayman if some had only listened instead of playing mind games.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand people.  Last week everyone was up in arms about all the crime on this island.  Obvioulsy witnesses are not coming forward so the govenment is doing something about the situation (like the public asked), and now people seem to be against the proposed steps.  There is no pleasing some people.

    • Anonymous says:

      What else would you expect. If the criminal protectors see that their days are numbered they will be all over the blog complaining.

      Its only natural isnt it.

      Even criminals think they have rights to perform their criminal activity.

  10. Anonymous says:

     CCTV cameras. No rights to protect from self incrimination. Extended police powers. This society is becoming more and more Orwellian by the minute. I only hope I can leave before everyone is a suspect to be rounded up and thrown into one of Mac’s overseas torture chambers. These things are unnecessary, all that’s needed is for the cowards who witness these crimes to come forth and give their information to police, and for the police to act on this information. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking about Mac’s overseas torture chamber……. Maybe he should get someone to help his brain realise that Northward needs a proper maximum security wing added.  This is a time when the Cayman Islands are flat broke and he wants to help build an overseas prison.  Please Big Mac, think carefully before you spend anymore of our money.  You keep hollering about the PPM getting us in debt.  The PPM did not build 8′ walls around their residences or have the country pay for police security guards or travel all over the world.  Our leadership is now non-existent and we need someone back at the helm who really cares about "CAYMAN" not how many trips they can make or how much money can be wasted.  Ever day, we are heading closer to the UK doing to us what they had to do to TCI.  But then the former head of that jurisdiction seems to be our leader’s good friend and confidante,  So, go figure!!!!!!!!!!!! 

  11. Nicola Moore says:

    It’s not called a negative inference its called an adverse inference.  This will only work if you tape record interviews which there is a massive resistance to in the RCIP.  Don’t know why – it protects the police and means that cheap points can no longer be taken by defence advocates who receive instructions from their clients that "I never said that".  The police in the UK had a real resistance to the tape recording issue prior to the introduction of PACE – then they realised it actually protected them from mendacious accusations of wrongful behaviour.  It also meant that confessions that were otherwise excluded were now part of the the evidence in the case.   The only officer who has to fear the tape recording of interviews is the officer who is breaking the rules.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ms Moore,

      I strongly agree – but then again the CoP nor the SG are not the persons who are actually doing the hard-work of researching and implemeting the changes in coordination with the PACE guidelines! They are just harping and taking credit for the work of a damn good officer and a higly skilled Counsel who have been working asidiously over the last few years on the now Police Bill. Congrats to you both for your hard work and dedication to implementing these changes for the betterment of the Cayman Islands. IT’s a pity no one seems to think that you desrved to be recgonised.


    • Anonymous says:

      "The only officer who has to fear the tape recording of interviews is the officer who is breaking the rules."

      Now as this will never occur in the Cayman Islands the police and the public have nothing to fear.

      Please tell me I am right.

  12. Anonymous says:

     CCTV is good. Increased police powers = abuse

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, we have to be careful that the "new police powers" does not increase the separatuion betwee US (the public) and THEM (RCIP + Government). 

      If it does then the situation will only get worse.

      There needs to be strong watchdogs looking for abuse of power.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Cameras  arenot always running.An owner that is intimiated by criminals who may threaten his life may give up the film to the accused ande also destroy or alter the tape.

    These tapes should e retrieved or reviewed by the police on a weekly or bi-weekly basis especially if they are on the hunt for a suspect.

    • Anonymous says:

      "These tapes should e retrieved or reviewed by the police on a weekly or bi-weekly basis especially if they are on the hunt for a suspect."

      Yes and I nominate you to coordinate and pay for this…