Crime plan down to CS bosses

| 17/09/2014

(CNS): Following recent concerns raised by politicians, local business owners and the wider public over the spike in violent burglaries and robberies, Robert Lewis, the man responsible for coordinating the country’s Crime Reduction Strategy said a number of important measures had already been implemented in the local war on crime. The Chamber of Commerce president has called for a meeting with the National Security Council (NSC) and queried what it has been doing for the last five years, but Lewis told CNS that senior civil servants have responsibility for implementing the various strategies that fall within their ministry. While most of them are long term, some have already been implemented and are having a measure of success.

He said it was the Cabinet policy unit, which he heads, that is monitoring and coordinating these initiatives but the day to day implementation of relevant policies to cut crime lays in the hands of specific ministry and portfolio bosses depending on the type of initiative or project.

Lewis explained that the Crime Reduction Strategy, which was based on a report commissioned by the Security Council, has four pillars. These include early intervention; reducing re-offending; situational prevention; and enforcement.

“While all four are important to address, for any meaningful long term reduction in crime to happen, early intervention and reducing re-offending are critical,” he said.

The long term strategies aimed at addressing these priority issues include the outreach programme “Prison, Me No Way”, which has been renamed "Youth Act". This is a project where police and prison officers address students in schools under “lock-down” conditions, where their freedom is temporarily restricted, giving them a taste of prison life. “This early intervention programme has had much positive feedback resulting from the collaborative effort of the Youth Act organisation, Ministry of Education, Department of Education, schools, police and prison officials,” Lewis stated.

Performance targets have also been developed to define success in addressing recidivism, he explained. 

“This should help all stakeholders in understanding targets and tailoring programmes accordingly,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Home and Community Affairs is playing the key role in this area of reducing re-offending.

A third element is the on-site farm at HMP Northward, which helps with rehabilitation of offenders.

Another implemented strategy is a domestic violence prevention task force consisting of the Family Support Unit, the Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender & Housing, the Department of Counselling Services, the Department of Children and Family Services and the Crisis Centre and schedule regular meetings.

Lewis said that these strategies are being monitored and adapted where necessary and some changes took place with the restructuring of ministries after the 2013 elections. He also warned that some components of the CRS could also be affected by the recommendations of the public service rationalization project

Lewis, who was recruited in November 2011 to fill the post of director of the Policy Coordination Unit, said it is part of his job to coordinate the implementation of the Crime Reduction Strategy (CRS) under the oversight of the National Security Council (NSC) but implementation responsibility for the relevant parts of the CRS have now become part of the annual performance agreements for chief officers.  Lewis said updates are periodically sought and received by the Cabinet Office from all the relevant ministries and portfolios in relation to progress in implementing the reduction strategy components and in turn this is reported back to the council.

However, Lewis also noted that the NSC, as the responsible oversight entity, can amend or create new components, informed by public opinion, regional or international best practice, resources, and any relevant recent activities such as the rationalization of government.

When the CRS was first made public the current premier (leader of the opposition at the time), Alden McLaughlin, who was a member of the NSC, said that if people were hoping for a quick fix from the report which shaped the strategy they would be disappointed. That was more than three years ago. Since then crime statistics have fluctuated but by and large Cayman is bucking the trend of other western nations where violent and serious crime is falling. 

Home invasions and aggravated burglaries, robberies of small businesses and street muggings appear to be on the increase and little progress, if any at all, appears to have been made on the issue of recidivism, which has been recognised as a significant problem for many years.

With so many people in the local community criminalised because of minor offences, such as consumption and possession of small amounts of ganja, finding work in both government and the private sector becomes almost impossible, which drives many of these people, who were law abiding citizens except for their ganja use, into real crime.

Finding ways to remove criminal records for those convicted of drug offences and having government lead by example and begin employing ex-offenders is seen by many as a much quicker fix to some of the problems.

See the original report on the CRS document below.

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  1. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    We implemented various strategies. And have had quite a lot of success. In an ongoing program to prioritize different parameters. And are waiting for the results of a subcommittee looking into aspects of the program. Before we decide on a comprehensive approach while moving forward.

    Get it?

    That's what we've been doing for the last five years.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Lewis' background is in Planning.  Mr. Eric Bush's background is in Policing.  Shouldn't he, as the person whose portfolio National Security falls under, be the one taking the charge instead of Mr. Lewis?

  3. Hear hear says:

    1.) Appeal to the Carrot effect = 800-TIPS and advertise. $1000 reward for info! 

    2.) Immigration enforcement to get off their butts and onto the streets: if you are not working go home. Then, we can deal with our own unemployed locals turning to crime instead of work and training. 

    3.) Bad boys need girls, it is nature.  Make our young girls proud and strong and they will want nothing to do with a lay-about loser gang banger or petty thief.  This video for the Girl project does impact crime.

    It will take multiple approaches to fight crime.  The good news? This is not a large population we just need to stand up, say No, and clean up our streets.


  4. UHUHUH says:

    Where there's no SCRUTINY!  There's no ACCOUNTABILITY!

    Where there's no ACCOUNTABILITY!  There's CORRUPTION!

    Where there"s CORRUPTION!  There is no SCRUTINY! 

  5. Anonymous says:

    There shoud be a stronger blind eye policy. Let me explain. A lot of crime in cayman is well know by many but they dont pay any mind to it. They think its ok because they who know of the crime werent directly hurt.

      This is a problem that must be fixed.

    That said the law needs to be enforced so that those that know of a crime and dont report it are guilty of an offence.

    This works quite well in many countrys. Cayman has this kind of law on the books but it is not enforced.

    Perhaps things would be much better if those privy to wrongdoings came foward instead of taking the attitude of thats not my Job or I cant report my friend

    • Anonymous says:

      Don't you get it.  We have policies, we have laws, we have reports.  They are rarely implemented except when someone wants to hide behind one.

  6. 4Cayman says:

    The retired police comments makes sense. Mr. Lewis will you implement some of the suggestions mentioned below? You can all continue to kick the can down the road but somewhere in the distant future there ain't gonna be any more road to kick the can down. Hope we all have dual citizenship for when the gangs and thieves take over. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    We continue to pay lip service to what is being implemented to reduce crime in our country.  I agree with Mr. Lewis that part of his reponsibility of the Crime Prevention Policy is "monitoring and co-ordinated these initiatives" however, he or the Cabinet Office should know what is working and what is not.  How do you create policy or advise Ministers/Chief Officers and the country what policies should be created and/or implemented if you have no idea what is working, how its working or how much it cost.  Mr. Lewis should inform the public of how many of these programmes he, the cabinet, Chief Officers or Ministers visit regularly.

    There are many programmes in our country which are funded by our Government that does not offer any outcomes or success, yet our Governmnet continues to fund them.  Mr. Lewis and the Caninet Office's responsibility is to hold Chief Officers and Ministers accountable for these programmes. This could be a first start in reducing our very large budget.

    What tends to happen in the Civil Service, which is no secret to the community, Ministers, Chief Officers and Civil Servants kicks the can down the road and discuss the limitations of their jobs and Ministries. We are advocating for tougher penalities and longer prison sentences in a country that have one the highest incarceration rates in the world.  Yet our Government has claimed that we cannot afford basic interventions to help our people.  I must ask the question, if we cannot afford to provide our people with mental health resources, update the dump, build a dock and airport, how are we going to afford longer levels of incarceration at CI$60,000 per year per prisoner. 

    The prison budget is approximately CI$15 million, RCIPS approximatley CI$35 million, Children and Family Services, approximatley $15 million etc.  We know from experience, after someone serves anytime in the prison system, they automatically become unemployable, which leads to reoffending and or referrals to Children and Family Services.  The system does not work and consultant after consultant have advised us on how to improve it. There are reports written about reducing crime in this country that very few people tend to read or use as a guide.

    Our challenge is not that we cannot improve the odds of our young people staying out of harms way, thereis no polictical or community will to see it get better.  Our citizens feel that its the Governments responsibility to protect them. Our people dont understand that they are the Government.  Cayman has never been a police state, we always had time to help out each other.  Now what we want is a microwave society where everything is fixed immediately dispite the long-term cost.  What our polictical leaders are not telling you is that they will continue to give you everything you want, however the price of that is high fuel cost, high CUC cost, high food cost, high incarceration cost, etc.  We are all paying for the big demands we placed on "We the Government."

    As citizens, you want to lower crime, take the time each day to talk to your children, start volunteering your time to mentor young people, join programmes that offer literacy to our youth, provide opportunities for offenders who need a second chance, demand that your polictical leaders stop the complaining and get to work.



    • Anonymous says:

      15:33, your post is way above the standard of most posts on this site. Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your post speaks volumes – I posted something a few days back regarding our youth and although there is much more to be fixed, people that we think would have the common sense to realise what you have written just don't get it or don't want to be bothered. If they think money and their big homes and big accounts are gonna solve what's to come if we don't tackle this issue sooner rather than later then they are in for a rude awakening. The only hurtful part about it is that the average people have to live with the results also. My family and I moved away 4 years ago and it's sad to see /hear that our little island and our people are falling so fast. It's coming and the only thing left to do (for our sake) is to come together and tackle it ourselves for as you can clearly see our government only gives a shit about their selves and we are quickly losing our kids…may God instill the strength in us to come together and do something about our home.


  8. Anonymous says:

    The Cabinet Office (which does not do anything that anyone can describe) Policy Coordination Unit would seem to be one of these "might be nice to have but definitely do not need" expensive entities that could be dispensed with. Robert Lewis is a Town Planner of ability and could easily be reassigned. Couldn't he?

  9. Philo the Philosopher says:

    Those responsible, have here taken approximately 700 words to tell us that little has been done in the last decade, re the reduction of serious crime in our Island! Yet we keep hoping for a miracle!  What we need is a "crime czar" who is experienced and knowledgeable and knows what to do to get the job done. When those responsible for protecting us, seem not to have the necessary tools expertise and/or the passion to reduce the incidents of crime in our community. That person will be given a remit to  select the best and most capable of our resources to get the job done hopefully with the acquiescence  of those who are normally in charge of those resources.  

    The people of this Island are tired of allocating millions & millions of the peoples money, year after year to these departments,  only to hear the many excuses why crime continues to escalate. 

  10. Anonymous says:

    As a retired police officer, it appears to me that whatever strategies they had, they really need to go back to the drawing board with.  First of all, face the facts, most of the crime we are experiencing is from habitual criminals.  They know no other way of life and refuse to do anything different.  They in fact prefer life in Northward where everything is provided and they don't have to work for anything.  So forget rehabilitating those and just be prepared to keep them.  The next set are those who are not habitual criminals and can be rehabilitated.  However, with this economy, they will find it hard to gain employment.  So apply whatever counselling they need and government set up a program that will allow them to work for pay until they can find employment in the private sector.  The third group are those kids whose parents are habitual criminals and who suffer from neglect and proper guidance.  Those need to be taken from the unfortunate environment they have inherited and treated on an individual basis in a structured environment. Fourthly, all students from Kindergarten to High School should be taught daily to be proud of and to cherish and uphold, the values and principles that we as Caymanians were once famous for and which we still wish to be exhibited by the generation of tomorrow.  Fifthly, our adversarial Justice system is a failure because it is merely a competition between the smartest lawyers instead of justice for those victimised by criminals.  It need to be carefully reviewed to ensure its mandate of justice.  Sixthly, laws need to be reviewed so that the penalties for each crime is appropriate; it should not be prison for everything with the only variable being how long to be served.  Criminals convicted of thefts and burglaries should be made to disclose who they have fenced the goods to and those goods should be returned to the rightful owner, with failure to disclose resulting in a much harsher sentence and the defendant having to work to repay the person who they stole the goods from.  Seventhly, police should establish a formal training academy at UCCI or ICCI with a set standard for acceptance and a formal program for training officers for all areas of policing.  One would have to be certified to be accepted into the police service and also go through and pass required training for specialised positions and promotions to leadership positions.

  11. Anonymous says:

    In the hands of senior civil servants is CIG code for "nothing has been done and nothing will ever be done and its not my fault".

  12. Anonymous says:

    Obviously the strategy is not working as crime has increased it therefore begs the question what is being done to address things right now?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Lewis

    Allow me to congratulate you on what is sure to be a long and successful career within the civil service.  You possess two of the most important skills which all of our great Government leaders have displayed. 

    You have the ability to wax eloquent without actually saying anything that has any meaning or substance and you are quick to pass the buck, ensuring that responsibility for the lack of any meaningful progress of the CRS is not laid at your feet. 

    Well done Sir!

  14. Anonymous says:

    The Security Council is about as useless as t….s on a bull.  They hvae their favorites on who they use but have no idea on what Security is all about.


    Another wasted committee!!!