Cops to get new-lock up

| 26/09/2013

(CNS): Following the damning findings in last year’s report from the UK’s prison inspectorate that condemned the George Town lock-up as unfit for human habitation, government has taken a step towards addressing the situation. The new PPM administration is investing $2.1 million in a new modern police custody suite to house up to 24 remand prisoners following their arrest in the Fairbanks area of George Town. The state of the current lock-up at the main police station is a serious human rights risk for government, has poor security, is unsafe for both staff and inmates and poses problems for police investigations because criminal suspects cannot be separated.  

As the new home affairs minister, Premier Alden McLaughlin led a groundbreaking ceremony at the site Thursday morning, signalling the start of construction on the crown land. Situated next to the women’s prison at Fairbanks and the plot where the now stalled young offenders institute had been planned, the unit will be built on land where government trailers had been located in the wake of Hurricane Ivan to house the homeless. As a result, the site already has a cistern and septic system in place and is appropriately zoned.

McLaughlin said that the construction of the new and humane lockup system would “right a wrong” that had existed for too long and “replace the miserable cells at the George Town and West Bay Police Stations” with a human rights compliant facility.

Pointing out that the constitution requires that anyone deprived of their liberty has the right to be treated with humanity, the premier said the cells currently in use in George Town, which are more like cages, were “sweltering”, reaching temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. The cells hold people who are not convicted of a crime but who are merely suspects and being questioned in connection with a crime.

“This is an important step in making us compliant with our own Bill of Rights and, at the end of the day, it is simply the right thing to do,” the premier said to the small gathering present for the groundbreaking.

David Baines, the police commissioner, has been asking government for a new custody suite since he arrived in Cayman in June 2009 and said he was delighted that the RCIPS will have the use of the facility by early next year, with full completion around November. Aside from the need to hold those who have not been charged with any crimes in far more humane conditions than presently on offer, Baines explained that the police are, more often than not, also the ones to take responsibility for troubled mental health patients.

He said that it was not unusual for people suffering from mental health problems who become a danger to themselves or others to be taken to the police lock-ups in the first instance until other arrangements can be made for their security. The new suite will offer far more suitable facilities for that, Baines explained.

From an investigation perspective, he explained that the current situation can seriously undermine police enquiries because it is impossible to keep prisoners secure and apart at the George Town lock-up. In circumstances such as those that the police encountered just this week, where four young men were arrested at the same time for an armed robbery, it was almost impossible to keep the suspects apart at the central lock-up, facilitating their ability to ”get their stories straight”, Baines noted.

Describing the squalid and dangerous conditions at the lock-up, Baines said he was surprised that there had not been far more incidences of prisoners harming themselves in the cage-like cells, as they posed a serious risk for vulnerable or dangerous offenders.

The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs has already tendered the project via the Central Tenders Committee for the design, build, delivery and installation of the modular facilities. The contract has been awarded to Eagle Construction, a company with years of experience in designing and delivering high quality secure detention facilities and meeting tight budget and time constraints. The modular unit is now being constructed overseas and will be shipped to Grand Cayman for assembly.

Eric Bush, the chief officer in the Home Affairs Ministry, gave assurances that the facility would not be a repeat of the situation with the juvenile institution and would be completed. The planned secure unit for young offenders is now on hold and a temporary facility is being constructed at HMP Northward. Although the foundations have been laid for the proposed youth facility, in the next plot to where the new custody suite will go, it is currently on hold due to the costs of the project.

Bush also explained that because the new suite can hold up to 24 prisoners at a time, some suspects remanded by the courts and awaiting trial will also be housed there. The chief officer said that, at present, there are forty people being held by the prison system on remand who have been charged with crimes and are awaiting trial, mostly at Northward.

Cayman's Bill of Rights, however, requires that remand prisoners who are arrested suspects or charged defendants but who have not been convicted be separated from offenders who have gone through the court system and been found guilty.

The new facility will separate male, female and juvenile prisoners who have been arrested or charged. Each individual closed off cell will be human rights compliant, with two bunks and an in-room toilet and sink.

See UK inspectorate’s report regarding the current police lock ups below.

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  1. Anonymous G Ride says:

    Yes Caymanians The PPM's solution to things is to build more Jails to lock you up! I bet they never put that in that PPM Manifesto???? RCIPS blackhole swallowing up the budget once again?

    • Anonymous says:

      I'm a bit confused. Shouldn't prison/jail look, feel and smell like shit? If not, then where is the deterrant for ending up in said place?

    • Anonymous says:

      You will learn that Governments are compelled to undertake many things during their administration that were not in their manifesto. Who said this was "PPM's solution to things"?  Did you even read the opening sentence to the article?

      "Following the damning findings in last year’s report from the UK’s prison inspectorate that condemned the George Town lock-up as unfit for human habitation, government has taken a step towards addressing the situation".

  2. Weapons Grade Bollocks says:

    The real crime here is the amount of funding given to RCIP.

    Never in the field of human endeavour has so much been spent to achieve so little. Well other than the education budget…………

    • Anonymous says:

      RCIPs better start their motor unit again and fine all the repeat offenders to pay for know, the dark window, drunk driving, dangerous driving, speeding, bad parking brigade. I reckon they could find that money in a month if they did their jobs properly.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah, and lets not forget their waste of Gov't funds on investigating things like liquor board corruption allegations and late night sessions. Come on, Baines, don't you think we have more important things to be looking into on this island right now? Are you really looking to help Caymanians or are you against us?

  3. Anonymous says:

    i bet it will end up costing more than $3m…..

  4. Anonymous says:


    INHUMANE……. like cages, sweltering heat? Really? I thought that's what prison was supposed to be like??? And to be treated inhumanely you first have to be a human!!! Some of these crimes being committed throughout these islands are being committed by people who act like animals!!!! That's where they need to be…. In the cages in the sweltering heat…..
    Women and children being molested and raped, home invasions, tourists being robbed, burglaries, unlicensed firearms and the list goes on…. Need I say more?.. And yet we are spending more money to make them more comfortable???? 
    Remind me again…. How does this serve as a deterrent NOT to break the law?
    • SSM345 says:

      21:30, the Humane Society has better conditions than that of GT Lock-up. Trust me, if Northward was like GT, people would think twice about their actions.

    • Anonymous says:

      The article clearly states that the new facility is to be used for persons arrested and not convicted of a crime, including persons who due to health reasons are a danger to themselves and others. Whilst it is normal for societies to demand ever increasing and severe punishments when suffering a rise in crime all evidence shows that treating people badly as a punitive response does not make a difference in levels of crime and equally does nothing to reabilitate people. This merely provides a revolving door of expensive incarceration as prisoners re-offend within a short time of release (which we have now). For the most dangerous offenders society needs protection but for others incarceration which does not include substance abuse treatment and the development of basic skills is failing to give released prisoners a decent chance of living within the law. It would be nice if complex issues like criminality could be solved easily by simple methods like treating people harshly but in democratic countries where human rights are held to be important we cannot treat people badly enough to make a difference and must seek a range of solutions to these difficult problems using evidence based solutions and a rangeof agencies to provide them. Given that abused people are more likely to be abusive why would you think that merely treating people more harshly would provide any positive change in outcome?

      Instead of looking for simple solutions we need to provide resources to ensure those convicted have a decent chance of changing their lives, holding all of our leaders accountable for unacceptable levels of recidivism and low crime solution rates which make a real difference in levels of crime long term.

      • Anonymous says:

        Persons who are a danger to themselves are their own problemnot ours.

  5. Jonas Dwyer says:

    Would help if this decisive approach by the CIG would prevail in all facets of the society.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is just a waste of funds once again. Agreed you need a new facility as there are human rights issues to contend with and safety issues. However once again you are putting a piece of chewing gum to plug a hole in a dam that will let it water push threw. 24 cells if the RCIP keeps or shall I say appear to arrest and charge criminals. With a trial taking place about 2 yrs or more in some instances,you have way over 20 people being held without bail alone. When you look at the ever climbing rate of crime, you will have the same issue over over crowding in a couple of months with this wonderful new facility. Baines will be there once again with the hand for money. Do it right the frst time so that we are not like many other issies debating this in 5 years time. The figures do not lie. With the amount of criminals that are qualified to be held over and with these gang loving girls taking in as many rude boy as one can count and popping children out like a watered Gremlin it stands to reason we will need more than 24 spaces very shortly.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So we by-pass the young offenders most of whom can be saved by proper facilities away from their environments and a more caring and compassionate society, so that they can grow into not so young criminals to be  incarcerated in the first instance, in the new lock ups' What a country, no money for a young offenders institute while the complete waste of resources goes on and the and rich are not asked to pay their way towards the infastructure of these islands.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The PPM spending spree is on the move…Watch out Cayman!! Here we go again!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please double the size. Cayman is effing effed and we need lock-ups to put these guys in. And make sure they are properly built that they can't set fire to matresses and do all the shit these thugs have been doing for the last 40 years. Or build them so that if they do set fire to them, they and only they die, as a result.