Efficiency key in crime budget

| 25/10/2013

(CNS): With the passage of the government’s 2013/14 budget in the Legislative Assembly, Wednesday, questions about value for money over the $32 million allocated to the police remain. With the eastern district MLAs demanding greater coverage and all political representatives wanting more high profile visible policing, the commissioner has blamed a reduced budget and the high demand for services in George Town and West Bay for his limited ability to deploy more police. Cayman’s new governor, who has considerable experience managing police budgets, said the RCIPS expenditure allocation cannot be constantly increased and there is a need to review how efficient the police are and whether money could be spent more wisely to free-up existing resources for front line crime fighting.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick said she agreed with the premier, whose ministry now carries the can for the financing of the RCIPS, that pouring money into the RCIPS is not a sustainable solution.

“These are difficult economic times and, like all public sector expenditure, we cannot keep increasing the police budget,” the governor told CNS Thursday.

Over the years there has been significant investment in the RCIPS, especially in technology and key equipment, such as the helicopter, CCTV and automatic number plate recognition, she noted.  That investment was now beginning to pay dividends following the recent arrests and convictions where the helicopter and CCTV were instrumental.

But Kilpatrick pointed to the need for deeper and greater efficiencies in the RCIPS that would see the money given to finance policing better utilized. Although she felt it was not easy to make a comparison with other police services because the RCIPS had a border control remit among other issues, she said the service was nevertheless substantially funded. As a result, she said, there would be opportunities to improve the efficiency with the use of technology, better allocation of staff and e-government.

Now that the governor’s office shares responsibility for the police with the elected arm of government, Kilpatrick said that she and Premier Alden McLaughlin were committed to reviewing how money was spent.

Obvious solutions, she said, were to examine the broad remit of the RCIPS and ensure qualified and specialist police officers were not filling in forms or undertaking administrative tasks that could be done by civilian staff. Kilpatrick also pointed to fixed penalties for all road offences and digitalizing other services, such as criminal records work and licensing of various entities.

The governor said that the promotion of e-government was going to be major theme during her time here, as it meant a reduction in cost for the public purse and a reduction in wasted time for customers. The police, she said, would be part of the move to online services too. As more administrative police work went online, more cash could be directed at the crime fight, she noted.

Committed to improving how the $32 million given to the police is spent without touching operations or the independence of the commissioner, Kilpatrick also spoke about more transparency and the need for the police to be much more open about what they do. She said the public has a right to know how funds are spent and Kilpatrick said she believed that the police could reveal considerably more about their work without compromising operations.

She pointed to the impact that pictures recently published from the police helicopter can have in terms of reassuring the community.

“The public is reassured by seeing the police in action,” she said, adding that showing  officers working hard on the frontline of crime and that money invested in equipment was paying dividends was part of the RCIPS' remit of policing by consent and it was important for the public to see what they consent to.

Acknowledging the much wider social problems impacting crime and policing, as well as the backlogged courts system and the pressing need for a new courthouse, Kilpatrick said there was still a lot to do to tackle crime outside of the RCIPS. She pointed to a need for a wider more collaborative long tern approach. The governor said there had to be more coordination in the community with the police, the courts, rehabilitation of prisoners and buy-in from the private sector to help ex-offenders find work in order to make future cost savings by addressing the causesof crime.

Nevertheless, in the short to medium term, she said, there would be efficiencies made in the existing budget allocation that would help the commissioner redirect the money to where it is needed most on the front line crime fight.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Have Baines put that in his pipe and smoke it. His deficiency is due to a lack of efficiency within his charge. He and Walton crying on how hard off the RCIP is is just poor. I agree that most of the money is for salary. So use your most costly resource – man power. Finally spmeone who can tell them no mpre money.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am not an expert. I heard somewhere the five main causes of crime are: need (poverty); set of believes (ethics, do not agree with actual laws. etc); influence (drugs, peer pressure,etc); impulse and gain.

    I tend to think in our society, influence and belives are the main cause. There may be some that think economic woes are part of it but really, the Cayman Islands does not know what poverty is. If you travel through some parts of Africa or Latin America then you would know poverty.

    People living within their means but with a high set of values does not resort to crime. Cayman had that up until about 30 years ago. We lost those values. Now we are becoming like any other society around the world. Wrong set of ethic values, entitlement, lack of serious well rounded education (where the goal is to raise a great individual and getting a good job is a byproduct of education, not the main goal), short term instant gain, lack of individual responsibility. I see us, citizens of this country breaking laws everyday without a second thought: on the phone while driving; parking on the wrong places, driving on sidewalks as not to wait for traffic, driving on the middle lane, not paying pension plans; etc, etc. We do not think that is too bad…is just a minor ofense. But in the end shows a pattern that needs to change. Just because it happens everywhere it does not make it right. We need 180 degree turn of how we go about things.

    Reinstating these parameters in everyday life is the long term solution. It will take a generation and solid dedication to achieve it but it is possible.

    In the short term, inmediate strong measures are to be applied. The prison and court systems are a failure here and in other places too. Recividism is over 60 percent around the world. We need to keep on trying but rehab does not work. Do not make bigger court houses or bigger prisons. Lets use the resources toward a short term plan while we work on the long one: fewer prisoners.

    Short one: Police Force on the streets stopping suspicious characters at any time of the day; crack down on anyone that does not follow any set of rules or laws minor or otherwise.

    Respond promptly to any call and take it seriously regardless. Crack down hard on criminals: Catch the one that stole a bicycle before he/ she becomes a hardened criminal. Impunity and hand slapping is the fertil ground for serious criminals. Police officers that come from places where petty crime is common have the mentality "it happens". That needs to change: there is not petty crime or petty criminals; there are only criminals.

    I could go on but in short as far as I am concerned a criminal is an enemy of our country. If Caymanian, he/ she is a traitor to this country and should be taken care accordingly.

  3. Anonymous says:

    there is still a van and 2 firearms missing….is that efficient… wrongsubject thats a compitent responsibility issue.

  4. Jonas Dwyer says:

    Big word "efficiency" so big that Lady Guv has to defend it. Hip hip Hooray.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yet RCIPS can blow CI$1million on surveillance equipment to intercept phone calls and emails that they may not legally be able to use? Interesting set of priorities here. It follows on nicely from Bainrs' decision to buy 150mph Dodge Chargers and other expensive toys for his officers rather than opt for cheaper, more practical options.

  6. Anonymous says:

    efficency in the civil service?????…..hahahahaha