Cops to tape interviews

| 17/08/2010

(CNS): Detectives from the RCIPS will soon be video taping interviews with criminals in order to remove any questions of doubt over what happens behind closed doors at the police station. Police Commissioner David Baines said on Tuesday evening that video suites with the latest equipment have been set up and once the training and process are complete officers will begin recording interviews of suspects involved in serious crimes. One of a number of initiatives that the top cop announced at a public meeting in George Town, Baines said he is aiming to improve the conviction rate oncases that go to court.

Baines said that there had been criticisms of the RCIPS regarding the failure of cases against criminals once they reach court. He said the introduction of video taping, which was common in other jurisdictions, would ensure that who said what would be recorded on video. “It is no good if we bring charges against those committing crime if we mess up the file when it goes to court,” he said, adding that he wanted to eliminate the procedural errors that could be challenged by the defence.
The issue of taping interviews has been on the RCIPS agenda for several years, with past commissioners also promising to implement the procedures. However, the issue of training officers seems to have been a past stumbling block. Baines said officers were being trained now and that tape recording interviews was a critical part of professional police work.
He also said he was keen to introduce more CCTV on the island as it had proved very helpful in a number of cases, and address the fundamental problem faced by the RCIPS, which was reluctant witnesses. He said the quality of video tape being used in court in the UK today was very good and had proved to be of enormous assistance to law enforcement
Speaking to an audience of around forty people, which included current and past George Town MLAs, Baines told the people he was working on stabilising and professionalising the RCIPS.
He said that there had been professional gaps exposed in the courts and he was doing his best to ensure that those problems were addressed. He said that in the court the benefit of reasonable doubt went to the defendant and the police had to work to ensure thereasonable doubt wasn’t created because of the procedures they had got wrong.
“We now have an exhibits officer and proper system for securing and identifying exhibits,” Baines stated as he answered questions about court cases where it was revealed that the integrity of evidence appeared to have been compromised.
He admitted that officers had been “cutting corners” and had been “found wanting” and he said that all of these issues, from crime scene protection right through to evidence gathering and storing, were now being addressed. “I accept all those criticisms,” the commissioner said. “We are now focusing on improving those standards. “We have gone through files and examined where the weaknesses were and we have already started to improve and the allegations of evidence tampering will be reduced.”
The RCIPS will soon have the opportunity to demonstrate the improvements in detection and evidence gathering as a number of trials related to gang violence opens in the Grand Court. The first relates to the fatal shooting of Omar Samuels in July 2009, which triggered a spate of tit for tat killings, in which another four young men lost their lives. The three men charged with Samuels’ murder will begin their trial on Monday 30 August.
Baines stated that, despite the professional gaps and various problems that had been revealed in connection with evidence and police cases in court, the RCIPS was taking undue criticism. He said if people were to believe the blogs the police were doing nothing at all, yet HMP Northward was full, the George Town police cells were full and the court dockets were booked for the next eighteen months with trials. He said, while there was some dead wood, the majority of officers were working hard to make the community feel safe.
Baines said the goal of the series of public meetings was to allow the people to raise their concerns and have their say and for the RCIPS to listen.
The next RCIPS Meeting will be in East End on Wednesday evening at 7pm at the community centre.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

About the Author ()

Comments (25)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ex-Caymanian & Not by Choice says:

    Sorry i got carried away with the point I was trying to make, which is with our island (Grand Cayman) and vast increase in crime there is absolutely no excuse for the lack of arrest and prosucution of the offenders, the recent reports of the home invasion and death of the perpertratior, the murder of a man in his on home and witnesses willing to testify but only if theit identities are PROTECTED shows the communitie tring to do their part but the Laws of the land need to be amended to protect the victims not the criminals, the references I made to the Tv shows where to bring home the thoughts of what the general public wonders & comments amongst ourselves,

    Which is how criminials find out who told on them!!! these various shows are based on fictional characters but actual cases therefore, we gather some idea on how the under world works from these shows,

    However back here in the real world the threat of serious crime and the distruction that it is rapidly causing can not continue and there are the powers that be that can stop this and we all know what can be done, we are afraid of the criminals, the Police and now the Judical Systems because at the end of the day we as the Public who can we really trust with our LIVES??????  

  2. Richard Wadd says:

     It is SHOCKING that only now, are we to begin doing this !

    This should have been standard practice from 30 years ago !

    • Anon says:

      Agreed.  So thank goodness Baines came along or perhaps we’d be waiting another 30 years!

      • ha ha says:

        for all the bad that Levers was to this island that was something she was pushing for from the day she came!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Baines, you have a competency problem with your Officers. They must be able to learn before you train. You cannot take people that were marking out football fields and convert them to Police officers with expectations they will understand the how to gather and present evidence in court. Change your hiring practicies and rid yourself of the donkeys currently in uniform. Yes, you will need to pay more for more competent people, so too do the rest of us.

  4. Anon says:

    Taped interviews? Isn’t Mr Baines ignoring the herd of elephants in theroom? Taped interviews might be a step forward but what about all the armed robberies, what is being done to combat this rise in violent crime?

    I don’t understand why the RCIPS cannot get a grip on crime when it is such a tiny Island. If Mr Baines had let the serious crime escalate to where it is now in a similar sized town in the UK – he’d have to account for this to his community and if he didn’t he’d be removed. Government should be asking some questions of him now.

    Comments on this site show that people are choosing other destinations to visit because of the crime rate, if the rise in crime is not addressed soon a lot of businesses will be folding or you will have to have tourists in ‘compounds’ as they do in Jamaica.

  5. Ex Caymanian & Not by Choice and a West Bayer at THAT says:

    Do we Caymanians not watch TV? CNN, TRU TV, etc, what about Cop shows, Forensic Shows etc, do we not see the same here in reality? why do the higher eigchlons seem to think that the Caymanian people are so uneducated and foolish? Crime here will continue as it has because until it is removed from the top, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to really see where the problem with the crime really starts and ends at!!! the video tapes whether it is digital or disc can be edited or hampered with.  So "Top Cop" try again, do some research before your next community crime meeting get some "real options" together and really try to get the people behind you and don’t let the powers above you who are safely locked away and protected from all of what is happening in our country today

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr Baines has not "realised" we need these techniques here.  He is battling the inertia for change that has afflicted the criminal justice system and police here for years.  There is no thirst for change.  Modernise the system and take away the old style of criminal litigation where ambush defence still exists.  In england defence statements, active case management by the judges ensuring proper and proactive prosecuting and defending preventing things like unecessary adjournments, adverse inferences, PACE, right to free advice at a police station, custody time limits and not allowing cases to sit for YEARS in the magistrates courts (in england a case has a first appearance, pdh and trial and sentence date not these interminable mentions that occur here).  The system in great part remains here as it was 30 years ago when crime was not an issue.  The system is on its knees trying to cope with 10,000 odd charges that go through the magistrates a year.  Get rid of magistrates sitting on traffic 1 day a week and bring in fixed penalty systems and fines which are payable online.  That will take away the need for 3 days of magistrates time being entirely wasted on minor traffic matters.  Change or die.  

  7. Anonymous says:

    BeachBoi, the Commissioner has been on the job for just over one year and as I recall he has spoken about  these deficiencies several  times. The problems you noted have been around for decades and I for one am pleased that Comissioner Baines is working on fixing the problems. What were past Comissioner’s doing to identify and fix the problems? The solutions will probably take some time to implement due to changes needed in legislation, but at least we are headed in the right direction. Keep up the good work Comissioner.




    • Anonymous says:

      So we are blaming the guy that had the job before.  AGAIN!!  Sounds so familiar.  A year is a a great deal of time to have identified and start fixing the problems on the force.  One thing I dont understand is the point raised about the training necessary for officers to carry out a video taped interview.  Should they not be trained to conduct a proper interview whether it is being video taped or not?  Our RCIP officers should be trained in all aspects of police duty including the use of fire arms whether they use them on a daily basis or not.  As for the passing of legislation, that happens on a daily basis now in the house so what is the hold up?

      • Anon says:

        Well we can hardly blame Baines for the (substantial)issues that already needed addressing within the police force when he arrived a year ago.  And a year is not really a long time considering the size of the task in hand.  I actually think its about the right length of time for a proper evaluation in order to take things forward and this appears to be where we’re at right now.  Personally, I have always held a lot of hope in Baines.  I know he recognised the shortfalls in the force when he arrived and felt the need to address them.  However, as I understand it, the police force here have become so institutionalized and set in their ways (which are not necessarily the right ways) that he must have had a battle to make his voice be heard, let alone bring about the changes.  Many are opposed to change and I believe this is particularly the case with the RCIPS.  I thank Mr Baines for all he has done to date and hope he has plenty more changes up his sleeves too, including the proper introduction and enforcement of PACE.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree.  I think a year is a l ot of time to find and at least begin to fix the problems.  It’s not like they problems were just discovered.  And how is he working to fix the problems.  If I were a police officer I would be afraid to patrol the streets of cayman at night.  The criminals are armed with guns and machets and the police have to call 911 and wait for the uniform support group to come over with guns.  When the criminals stop threatening and start shooting in these robberies we will not be ready.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well it is good to see that the Commissioner reads the blogs or at least has one of his subordinates reading and relating it to him. It is a useful source of information to gauge how the populace feel about what is happening here on Cayman. I think after a year here the man is finally telling us the truth to some degree {there is always my truth ,your truth and the truth}. And that he is addressing the deficiencies in the RCIPS. All I am saying is lets give the man one last chance before issuing our final judgment. One year with nothing to show except admittance of shortcomings and downright failures might be a little hard for one to accept, but the bottom line is he has admitted the problems and has addressed them . Lets give the man a chance and see if his strategy works, lets see if his plan results in diminished crime,and better protection for the home and business owner, the general population. As far as I’ve  heard we always had an overcrowding problem at northward.But we should give him a chance. we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  9. Rorschach says:

    Hey, Hey, Not so fast there…..Next you will be telling criminals that they have the right not to say anything and access to an attorney….What’s this world coming to when the police will have to actually go to court and prove that a confession was not coerced and that the accused REALLY DID say that he did it??  I’m not liking this new fangled technology at all….

    • Anonymous says:

      PACE (Police & Criminal Evidence Act) has failed miserably in the UK and I don’t expect it will be no different here.

      I have worked with many UK officers over the past years and they were all relieved to be operating under "Judges Rules" here in the Cayman Islands. In fact, all the other English speaking caribbean countries I know, still operate under "Judges Rules" and they collectively have a much greater rate of sucess in detecting crimes, than police officers using PACE in the UK.

      If you do a poll in the RCIPS, I can guarantee that 95-98% of the officers still favour "Judges Rules" remaining. 

      • Anon says:

        PACE has NOT been unsuccessful in  UK.  I have spent years prosecuting and defending under it in the UK and as an example have only ever seen 1 interview successfully argued to be inadmissible whereas here I regularly have seen interviews argued out in the most unmeritorious of circumstances.  If the RCIPS like judge’s rules it is because of the unaccountability of them so far as both police and suspect are concerned.  The only one to fear tape recording and proper rules for the detention , search , interview, treatment of suspects along with ID parades are those who are prone to cutting corners. 

      • Brit says:

        I am from the UK and I can tell you without any doubt whatsoever as a matter of fact (as opposed to what you heard from other officers) PACE is invaluable.  Are you a policeman by any chance?  Only with the accountability that PACE would bring about, I can imagine many of you wouldn’t be too keen on it – it might make you have to do your jobs properly and effectively, and you most certainly would have to be held accountable for the things you did wrong.  PACE is a rule book to give you guidance and protection and to give us the public, the chance to throw the (PACE) book at you if you don’t follow the rules.  Its desperately needed here in Cayman.  The current system that you love so much (and places responsibility on the courts and not the police) is failing miserably – anyone can see that.

    • Rorschach says:

       I guess once again, these thumbs downers failed to get the tongue in cheek manner of my comments…  -sigh-…..

       This is technology that has been around for decades….and should have been introduced "donkey years" ago…  once again…RCIPS is Waaaaay behind the curve….

  10. Anonymous says:

    Finally… Welcome to 1970.

    Now lets try to get all policing standards, tools, techniques up to 2010.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good work.

    The Commissioner, by admitting that there are problems within the police force, has taken an important first step on the long road to fixing the problems.

    I believe that the commissioner is doing a good, realistic job and deserves  whole hearted support from the community.

    Good luck, sir.



    • Tami says:

      Yes… a good job in this regard ONLY…

      I don’t know about the other issues!

    • Beachboi says:

      So he is starting in on that "good job" attitude this week!!!  These procedures that he is talking about have been in existence in the "real world" of policing for decades and he is now realizing that we need them here.  Video taping confessions, crime scene protection and strict evidence collection procedures are the norm world over and the fact they we are just getting around to implementing them is something that this guy should be ashamed to admit.  So if he is just getting around to bringing us "up to speed" what has he been doing the rest of the time since he as been in office?????  Beaching?  Fishing??  Diving??? 

      Also, he talks about CCTV having assited in solving crime.  I would like him to give examples.  One of the robbers of the Esso on West Bay Road didnt even hide her face and has she been caught eventhouh there was full color video???  Not!!  Baines you are out of touch and need to get a grip!!!  How can we expect better of the RCIP officers when they are working with broom sticks to fend off criminals and scotch tape to collect evidence??????????

      • Anonymous says:

        It amazes me that people think you can turn around an institution that has been failing for years like the RCIPS in a couple of weeks. A new person coming into the CoP’s roleneeds months to find out everything that’s wrong with the system. They then need to prioritise what has to be done within the confines of budgets and manpower, set out a plan of how they are going to achieve results, and then put that plan into action, all the while still working with a broken system. To pull police officers out of their roles and send them for extensive retraining takes time, puts a strain on colleagues who have to take up the slack, and is very difficult when police leave is cancelled due to the number of murders we have. The RCIPS is so broken it will take time to turn around. The (now not so-)new Commissioner brought in a training expert, a while ago, and we should be starting to see some fruit about now. The taping of interviews is a next step, but it works both ways and you have to make sure that the police do not conduct the interview in a manner that offers a guilty person a get-out-of-jail-free card at trial. The measure of this commissioner’s success will be in the crime statistics for his SECOND year in the position. If those figures continue to show an escalation in crime, then he’s failed, BUT if they show a decrease,it means we have all turned a corner. This WILL take time people.

        • Right ya so says:

          I agree – change does not happen overnight – and as we all know – people don’t like change – particularly in institutions!  It’s hard work – like fighting against the tide.

          And a year is really not that long – he had to settle in, learn who was who and what was what, identify the issues, persuade, cajole and beg people to share information and talk to him about the issues that they saw internally, fight the fear of retribution for those that came forward to disclose information, try and change the "well, that’s just how things are in Cayman" attitude, etc., etc…. AND to top it all off he is a foreigner which means he is doubly distrusted ……

          Anyone want that job?!?!?!?  

          Kudos to the man for not giving up just yet and pushing forward.