Paradigm Shift

| 20/09/2011

Our community needs to have an open discussion about what we are willing to do to end the scourge of crime. It makes no sense to limit our response to escalating crime to the same ineffective measures. No amount of hand wringing by citizens, posturing by politicians and press conferences by senior police figures will produce the information required to secure the conviction of our violent criminals.

Rewards limited to a few thousands of dollars have also failed to secure the information necessary to produce arrests and convictions. Simply throwing money at police so they can buy toys when they don’t have the cooperation of those who can provide the evidence necessary to secure convictions is not the answer. It is time to consider additional legislative measures in order to get the violent criminals off our streets.

In this Viewpoint, a three part option is suggested based on an enhanced “carrot” for those who assist in catching criminals, a new “stick” for those who refuse to assist, and a variation of the Prisoner’s Dilemma to focus the minds of both criminals and those that assist them by refusing to provide information to the authorities.  Some measures may seem unconventional, but the conventional is clearly not working.

The first part of the suggested legislative change is to provide for a more consistent and generous use of rewards for information regarding gun and other violent crime. Ideally the money to fund such rewards would be obtained at least in part from the confiscated property of criminals and those who harbour them. If people knew that being vigilant and inquisitive and reporting information that might relate to gun or other violent crime had a high probability of producing a significant reward, then some people would be more vigilant and more cooperative with the authorities.

The second part of the suggested legislative change is to create a legal obligation which would require people who have information regarding criminals to provide it to the authorities. People who know or have reason to believe that specific people are likely to have committed specific crimes, where illegal guns or stolen property are kept, or how and when criminals get their guns into the country, must be required to report this information to the appropriate authorities. Those people who have information and fail to provide it ought to be treated as participants in the criminals’ activities, or at least as obstructing justice. Persons who lend or rent their vehicles to criminals to assist the criminal in the commission of crimes should have their vehicles confiscated. Those who knowingly shelter criminals in their homes, giving them shelter so that they can continue with their crimes, should have their homes confiscated. 

The objective of the third part of the suggested legislative change is to encourage criminals to turnon each other and those that assist them. We need to double the prison sentences for all gun and other violent crime while at the same time creating a legislated basis for the prosecution service negotiating moderate sentence reductions with criminals willingto assist in securing the conviction of those that they commit crimes with, those that provide them with the weapons they use, those that handle any property they steal, and those who assist them by knowing about their criminal activities but not reporting them.  

We need to change the paradigm. At the moment there is no downside for individuals assisting criminals by refusing to provide the information necessary to prevent, detect and punish crimes. If people who assist violent criminals knew that they could go to prison for doing so, and they also knew that if the criminal was caught that the criminal could turn them in to secure a sentence reduction, and they knew that they could get a significant amount of money for turning the criminal in before the criminal turned them in, then odds are that more information would be provided to the police.

There are many precedents for creating obligations to assist the authorities and the community when specific groups or even the entire community are under threat. Many jurisdictions impose legal obligations to report the suspicion of child abuse and related offences. Obligations to report the suspicion of certain types of illegal activities are also imposed on many professionals from finance industry workers to lawyers to judges to physicians and dentists and nurses. Some jurisdictions also impose general legal obligations to report threats to the community such as might be created by a fire, by way of example. 

There can be no doubt that the epidemic of violent crime that we are experiencing is a threat to our community. Our response should be to require everyone to cooperate in limiting that threat, and to punish those that side with the criminals.  

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Stage one is to fire the Cayman police force and bring in the Canadian Mounties instead.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Those meaningful sayings like "It takes a village to raise a child" and "No child left behind" are just hollow words unless action is taken. The teachers in our schools know which children are being left behind but that is out of their control. They are there for teaching those who can and are able to learn at a reasonable level. With this ability of identifying the problem children and those being left behind we can isolate them into a special classroom (use the Nation Building Fund for this) where they receive the necessary tutoring and guidance to enable them to learn and become productive citizens. They should be forced to attend  school without the ability of skipping class. Their home life should also be addressed to deal with problem parenting and peer group pressures. This can be done but takes dollars and people willing to step up to the task.


    Although Cayman is small by most country standards, we are not a villiage. We are an island of individuals who stay out of each others' business and hide our identities when we write comments. This shell has to be broken somehow so that we can begin working together to fix our problems. Anything short of this is a waste of time.


    Our political party system  has divided us against each other rather than bringing us together. How can we unite when our elected representatives can't even sit in the same room and work together without throwing insults at one another?


  3. Anonymous says:

    Government and the private sector seem to have adopted the first part of what is suggested here by announcing the bigger rewards. Now lets see if they can follow through with encouraging the thugs to turn on eachother. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    I like these ideas.

    As a start it should be easy to impose a requirement on everyone to report all guns unless the person knows for a fact that the person in possession of a gun has a valid license for it. We have pictures of the idiots in the latest shootings posing with guns and their friends on Facebook. I have no doubt that those with previous criminal convictions are not posing with guns that they possess legally.

  5. Bombs Away! says:

    Since it appears that war has broken out in West Bay, I suggest we acquire a couple of the drones that Obama plans to pull out of Afganistan. They are nicely impersonal and dispense with the uncertainty of an expensive and messy trial.

    • Anonymous says:

      We already have enough drones that are impersonal and dispense uncertainty only we call them back bench MLA's.

      • Anon says:

        Reading comprehension needs work. "Dispense with the uncertainty" not "dispense uncertainty", i.e. polar opposites.

        Acutally that charge is best laid at the govt's feet.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Aristophanes I must admit I usually like your viewpoints but on this one forgive my cynicism, your priveleged background translates into a naivete which means  you propose an academic solution to non academic problem. We as a community all want this surge in violent crime to end. How can we accomplish this? Our police force if judged by results has proven to be highly ineffective. What are the opions? your suggestion to pass more laws with all due respect is like using a tweezers for a hair cut, its not really going to help much. Despite 4,000 new laws being enacted under Labour there the UK riots were. If you want to end this surge in crime in a relatively short time frame bring in a third party security force. I'm a big fan of Colin Farrel so I say bring in a SWAT team. Let them set up a few sting operations, let them react in the same proportion of violent force used by the guys pistol whipping old ladies and shooting each other. This will deal with the short term, in the long term we are talking about a fundamental shift in our society's priorities. Deal with the alcohol and drug abuse affecting families, get rid of our obsession with material things, when our political leaders ride bikes and not ride in Range Rovers then we will see a better example. Right now we have political supporters cruising around in Ferraris, what do you thinkthat inspires?

  7. Anonymous says:

    In addition to confiscating the fruits of the criminals' labour like house and car etc., I believe that in the case of minors, the parents should suffer repercussions as well. There have to be penalties for bad parenting or parental neglect. Society suffers whenl parents in their duties. We can't dictate who should or shouldn't be allowed to have children, but we should have the right to penalize bad parenting.   When parents fail in their duties, the rest of us are forced to deal with the problems created.


    People must realize that Police for the most part are not a crime prevention agency. They have their hands full trying to solve crimes already committed.  Police are called upon after something happens. If you were to call them and say you know of a criminal who is about to commit a crime, they would tell you they can do nothing until after the crime takes place. They serve a vital purpose but preventing crime just isn't possible under the law. Removing the incentives and rewards of a criminal life are the most important deterrents we have to crime prevention.


    Gangster Girlfriends:


    In several of the gang related killings there were girlfriends of the deceased present when the shootings took place. These girls have full knowledge of gang activity including names, events and how guns are obtined etc. Yet we never hear of the police arresting them or prosecuting them for criminal activity. In the U.S. a person who has knowledge of a murder or major crime and fails to report it, is considered as an accomplice and can be prosecuted. Such remedies are needed here now. Guilt by association will lead to more information gathering at the very least.

    Anti-terrorism measures  in the U.S. saw  the Patriot Act put into effect which gives law enforcement powers that some say violate their rights to privacy. Some sacrifice has to be made by all of society in order to properly clean up the mess we have allowed to grow out of control.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree with putting gps tracking ankle bracelets on suspected and known criminals and their friends. Wearing such a device would not be that bad for someone who is not a criminal but sure would go alot to catch the bad guys.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Agreed. The old rules that protect civil and human rights are antequated in that these rules and laws also allow gangs and those with bad intentions to wreak havoc on society. If we had the means to arrest all bad people there would be no room in prison to house them all. We need to re-instate the death penalty and use it often as a deterent to future crime and to rid society of those who chose to live a life of crime.


    Gangsters in particular are of a culture that has no hope for tomorrow or any future of any kind. They live for the moment without regard for laws for human life. I have found that the best deterent to unwanted behavior in all animals including man is to introduce measures that make the unwanted behavior inconvenient. The more inconvenient being a gangster or criminal becomes, the more incentive there is for positive behavioral change.


    A good place tostart would be to use the existing technology of ankle bracelets. Since we cannot arrest people who are known gang members but have not committed and offense we can make it inconvenient for suspected members by monitoring their locations 24 hours a day with the bracelets. If their location coincides with a crime then they are automatically arrested. If the ankle bracelet is removed or disabled they are arrested. The bracelts should be worn for a period necessary to prove they are not at risk for commiting crimes.


    Likewise, all inmates leaving prison should be tagged with tracking devices until they have been gainfully employed for at least 1 year and prove they are capable of providing for themselves without resorting to crime.


    Curfews could work to a very limited extent and would cause more harm to business and the innocent as a result.


    We know who thee criminals are and who they associate with. All people including their associates should be tagged with GPS location monitoring devices to allow law enforcement to solve crimes quickly.


    Inconvenience is the key.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You can't criminalise knowing a criminal, or having information about a crime.  Every time acrime happens in Cayman rumours fly. Like most people I ignore 99% of them.  Your proposal would make me a criminal! RCIPS can't even arrest and prosecute people who walk up and shoot people in crowded nightclubs, how are they going to prosecute "thought crimes".

    You are right that there needs to be a paradigm shift, but it needs to be community-led, not legislation-led Crime has to be seen as unnacceptable, and the police have to be seen as the good guys. Families of criminals and gang members should be shunned, thrown out of church and shamed.  Families that shelter criminals and withhold information from the police should be made to feel like the social pariahs that they are. Kids that are going down the wrong path without proper parenting need to be seen as a community problem with harsh community and social consequences for those that don't conform.

    It's easy to point the finger at the RCIPS, but they can't police a community that doesn't want to be policed.


  11. Anonymous says:

    We also need to reform the prisons to make them a place the criminals do not want to go.

    • Anonymous says:

      We should not violate anyone's human rights, but I see nothing wrong with the Director of Prisons piping some soft lullaby music by Barefoot and Andy Martin into the prison cells every night. Can you imagine the effect that would have on someone raised on Gangsta Rap?

  12. Anonymous says:

    I agree. This needs to be implemented as part of the solution to what is going on. Those that assist the criminals are criminals.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Excellent Viewpoint. The only addition to your recommendations that I would suggest is that police officers who cooperate with or pass information to criminals ought to be put away for life.