GTPS custody system poor

| 19/09/2014

(CNS): Another independent report has criticised the conditions, as well as the procedures, at George Town Police station’s custody suites. An independent report conducted by the Bermuda Police service surrounding the arrest and suicide of PC Raphael Williams concluded that the standards at the George Town Police station fall far short, not just because of the state of the cells but because officers are not following proper procedure. The report found inconsistent records, illegible notes, missing information and confusion over the management of medicines for suspects in custody. The visiting police service also noted the serious liability presented to the RCIPS by the state of the cells.

A redacted verision of what had been a secret report was released on Thursday by the governor’s office, following the conclusion of the coroner’s inquest on Friday, when the jury returned a suicide verdict.

The Bermuda officers were asked to undertake the independent investigation by the police commissioner following the death of PC Williams and a complaint that was filed about his treatment. The author, Robert Cardwell, reviewed the circumstances surrounding William’s arrest, the evidence against him, his time in custody, the treatment he received and the circumstances of his death and largely rejected the allegations that had been made about the chain of events.

The report concluded that the investigation had been above board but Cardwell and the two offices from Bermuda who assisted him raised several concerns about the custody system and suites.

The report reveals a catalogue of sloppy procedures regarding the record of Williams’s time in custody which raised concerns for the Bermuda officers. Describing the various problems in the system, the officers noted in the report:

“This does not meet the threshold for any kind of high standard or best practice for maintaining accountability for custody of arrested persons.”

Not for the first time the custody system was described as poor and echoed complaints heard on numerous occasions in the local courts when what should be important records kept by police at the point of arrest of suspects have been found to be incomplete, inadequate and illegible.

The Bermuda police also found that the cells still being used by the RCIPS at the George Town lock-up, as they await the completion of the new custody suite, were in an appalling state.

“The custody suite at the George Town Police Station is dated and undesirable to the needs of a contemporary police service where Human Rights are paramount and maintained whilst in custody,” the author noted. “Significant threat of liability is presented to the RCIPS as there is no natural light in the custody facility, the cells can best be described as wire cages that afford no privacy, do not contain access to running water or a toilet facility and the air temperature does not appear to be regulated and controlled.”

The visiting officers also noted the potential dangers for self-harm to prisoners as a result of the cell layout, and when they toured the facility the CCTVs were not working, as had been the case when PC Williams had been detained in the cells overnight.

The findings of the Bermuda Police reflect those of the UK’s HMP Inspectorate when they condemned the custody suites at GTPS in an extensive review of the prison and police detention facilities in February 2013 more than 18 months ago. 

See full report below.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Crime

About the Author ()

Comments (33)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Some Senior managers in our professional firm

    spend 14-16 a day in  offices with no day light. My cubicle is by the window,but it gets hot in the afternoons.

  2. Soldier Crab says:

    It seems most commentators do not know that there are actually two sets of holding cells at CPS.

    On an upper floor there are a few cells which are the original temporary detention facility from when the building was built.

    These were actually used to house convicted prisoners pending arrangements being made to send them to Jamaica (before Northward was built); simultaneousy prisoners on remand, awaiting trial, were also held there.

    There is no natural air-flow and the cells are small and oppressive.

    They are still used for: Women detainees, to segregate them from male ones; dangerous detainees of either gender; any detainees who may be needed for questioning at frequent short intervals.  CID has offices on the same floor.

    Following the building of Northward Prison obviously convicted prisoners were no longer placed there but the other uses continued.  Following one or other inspection and report it was decided to build a new cell-block in the compound behind CPS.  This consists of two rows of cages facing each other with a space of around 20 feet between them.  A door from the rear of CPS opens into the space.  At the opposite end of each row is a bathroom.  The far end is closed off by a wall.  Each cage has a couple of concrete shelves 2 x 7 feet or so, with a dirty, thin mattress.   There is a roof over the whole thing and so it is rather dark and there is no air flow at all.  A desk manned by a pseudo-policeman is just inside the door, so he can sit in air-conditioned comfort without being bothered by the noises from and smell of the cells. He is supposed to check on the detainees at frequent intervals, but they have no means of summoning him in case of need.

    Lawyers and relatives visiting detainees do not see this as the detainee is brought to an office within the building for the purpose.

    It's plain to see that the situation is not Mr Baines' fault   It all comes down to money.  When and if the government of the day thinks it is politically worthwhile to build something better, it will happen.  Until then………..!  

  3. Anonymous says:

    These cells have been criticised for at least 35 years in various reports but it takes us a little bit of time to get some of them things done, bobo. The abbattoir took about 30 years and we still dont have the cruise ship mooring points, also from about 30 years ago. Patience, bobo. It soon come, man.

  4. Anonymous says:

    as far a comissioner baines if i am not certain he has already broken ground on a new holding facility but the staffing and training will still need to be standardized

    • Anonymous says:

      To "It doesn't sound so bad" and other like minded persons — read the above article again.

      How does this sound: "Describing the various problems in the system, the officers noted in the report:


      As CNS added: "Not for the first time the custody system was described as poor and echoed complaints heard on numerous occasions in the local courts when what should be important records kepy by police at the point of arrest of suspects have been found to be incomplete, inadequate or illegible."

      And CNS' observation above is just about the records — the Bermuda report in my mind is suggesting something beyond mere record keeping.  — they appear to be referencing the whole system of how custody is handled.

      Whether the person is later proven to be guilty or not, the RCIPS is required to have professional and humane systems in place as a matter of course.

      I am happy that CNS is taking the time to fairly reflect the content and tone of the Bermuda report — it is more that a certain competing publication is wont to do, seeing as how it sees its role as the PR agency of the Commissioner of Police.

      Not only sad as we have one daily newspaper so we don't have the competing editorial voices, but such journalistic practices make me nauseated.

      In the same light, we have not seen one attempt at critiquing the EY report. Instead, we are treated to detailed reports of the report and editorials that endorse EY's regurgitation of what had already been thought of but rejected in light of the full weight of impacts or, admittedly, in some cases,  under the weight of our lack luster political will.

      Apparently, that particular media conceives its role as the champion of big business and their cronies, regardless of the social impacts on Cayman.

      Privatise everything — and put more money in the pockets of the greedy commercial sector that is already stuffing their pockets.

      If I sound angry — yes, I am.  Let us have some real journalism in which the issues of the day are looked at thoughtfully and in the context of the best interest of the Cayman public and not just to put more money in already deep pockets.








  5. Anonymous says:

    The Cells have been that way for a long time Baines came here and found them like that and did nothing but he was not the first Commisioner to do the same..

    the system that is being used had been questoned asar back as the year 2000 and everytime nthing ha been done.

    th facilitie are secure enough touse as a storage room for eqipment and filles but not for olding prisoners.

    • Anonymous says:

      Once more in English?

      • Anonymous says:

        Its not the writer's fault, its this damn CNS reply box problem. After about 1 minute of typing, the system is all messed up and hard to type in any normal manner. CNS needs to FIX their Reply To Comment Section !!!!!

        CNS: We're moving the site to a different platform at the end of the year. So at the moment we're putting all our resources into the new site. Apologies for the inconvenience in the meantime.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It's a jail cell, not a hotel.

    • noname says:

      For you its a jail cell.  For many here its home away from home. Look at the thumbs down to see the percentages.  Serious lack of education and bad parenting has kept the Caymanian people in the stone age for too long.  Even the leadership is so far behind they are still learning about integrity and just what it means.

      • Anonymous says:

        Many in leadership are not even computer literate. I was shocked to read that the leader of the opposition has to have his emails printed off and handed to him!

      • Anonymous says:

        Home away from Home?

        Are you serious?  IT IS A JAIL CELL. Yes they should be updated but not like someone's living room. IT IS A JAIL CELL.

      • Anonymous says:

        Contraception has a lot going for it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    @21:37 – lets hope you are a law abiding citizen and I hope you are never wrongly accused and arrested and have to be placed in a holding cell until your attorney shows up to assist you.  Many innocent people get dragged in for questioning etc. and sometimes are held overnight.  That is not suitable for a stray dog, let alone a human.  How about innocent until proven guilty? 

  8. Anonymous says:

    21:31 you talk all tough now because you are on the outside , but i was always tought that jails and prisons were made for people and guess what people make mistakes and find themselves in undesirable situations sometime , prisons and jails can change people without being inhumane  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Remember, you don't have to be guilty of a crime to find yourself in custody.  Mistaken identity is a crucial mistake made by witnesses everyday.  Imagine if YOU'RE arrested for ANY reason and gotta spend the night in THAT cell, only for the following day to be released on no charges!

    To be honest, I wish we didn't have stupid people like Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/09/2014 – 21:37 in the world!




  10. Anonymous says:

    This Police comissioner has to go!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    It doesn't sound that bad. They are prisoners for crying out loud. They are the scum of society. Why do we care what happens to them ?  When they commited crimes, did they care about how it affected the victims and society? 

  12. Anonymous says:


    Are we waitin until we get more law suits or until he completelybtarnish the entire service. Where is the Government on this are you all just going to sit on your a*s and lt this man do as he pleases. Come on man!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Good for the Governor in releasing this report.  I don't believe that if it was up to the RCIPS that we would hear about this.

      and strange — or perhaps not so much so — that this account of the report reads so much differently to the one I read in the Compass today.

      good for CNS in remaining true to its journalistic standards — apparently other media may decide to cherry pick when to play hard ball and when to gloss over situations.

      the problem is that the Cayman public is not as stupid as some may think.

      thanks CNS.

  13. Don Corlione says:

    And we all act shocked and speechless! REALLY NOW?

  14. Anonymous says:

    All I can say is don't do the crime!! If you do guess what I don't give a hoot what the conditions are, you gave up your rights to be free.. Deal with it.. Oh and by the way why don't you human rights people go to central, South America and Africa prisons and start complaining there first, way worse than central police stn… 

    • Anonymous says:

      The prisoners taken to the police station are not convicted. They are suspected of committing an offence. 

      To arrest someone the police need to have reasonable suspicion that the person committed an offence.

      To charge someone the DPP's office need to have a reasonable belief that the person committed an offence. 

      To convict someone a tribunal of fact (judge/jury) need to believe beyond all reasonable doubt that the person committed an offence.

      Do you think we should be comparing ourselves to South America and Africa when it comes to human rights?

      • Anonymous says:

        It is not sufficient for the DPP's office merely to have a reasonable belief that the person committed an offence in order to charge them. Instead, the DPP mus be satisfied that a reasonable judge/jury hearing the case, with the correct advice about the law, is more likely than not to find the defendant guilty.  

        In order to convict, the judge or jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence has proved the defendant's guilt. Not quite the same thing.  

    • Anonymous says:

      21:37 Not everyone held in custody at the GT station is guilty of a crime. None of them has been tried yet, so innocent until proven guilty. You must have an image in your mind that only   gang member thugs stay in these cells but it could also be you or me one day. People are found to be not guilty all the time for the crimes they've been accused of committing.

    • Cheese Face says:

      It is quite possible that a perfectly innocent bystander, present when a crime was committed could be arrested and placed in these cells.

      I do however have very little sympathy for the guilty.

    • Anonymous says:

      READ the article, this isn.t prison they are talking about. its the police station, where MANY innocent people, along with the guilty, are taken prior to a full investigation, prior to being charged and nowhere near to being founf guilty. I DARE you to go an spend a night there are an innocent person and then tell us all about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      The draconian right-wing opinions are certianly popular, but the fact remains that it is wrong to put Human beings in dog kennels.  It shouldn't matter what their occupants may have been accused of (ie. not yet convicted of).  Unlike the places we envision in South America or Africa, Cayman has a truly first world police budget, and first world obligations to match – that we aren't meeting.  That's our own failure, that we can either continue to ignore, or fix.

    • Anonymous says:

      ALL I CAN SAY IS….it sounds like ya been there bobo! 😉

    • Anonymous says:

      21:37.Of course innocent some people who have been arrested have actually been innocent . Just suppose that you are one of these unlucky people,I bet you would expect different treatment from what you are so happy to suggest be given to others.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are that bad, I've been in worse… Got a bed, recovered from my hangover and got breakfast, unlike when I was in a Brazilian cell, won't drink and argue with a police officer there again.

      plus I only got

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes some people are inoccent, only some, a majority are not so deal with it. Don't be in the wrong place or hang out with the wrong people, or in fact you just we're not caught or not enough evidence to convict them.

      I didn't see anyone back in the 80's , 90's complain about these cells, way worse back then. At least the rain doesn't fall in the cells anymore, but of course now we have to complain.

      Oh and by the way some people need to be locked up like dogs… 


      • Anonymous says:

        If they are treated like dogs, how will they behave in return?

        They will act like dogs, simple.