July 6th 2023
Our community is facing a challenge with incidents of robbery and violence. Today, I want to discuss the impact this poses and share ideas from the Progressives on how to control and address these issues.
It is important to note that our overall crime levels are relatively low compared to many other countries. However, the real concern lies in the alarming rise of serious offences within our community.
We see evidence of that in our daily news, but it is also written large in the statistics published by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. While overall crime levels remain below the pre-Covid 2019 rates, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s more to the story.
The statistics reveal an increase in overall crime in 2022 compared to 2021. Moreover, there has been a significant rise in serious violent crimes involving firearms or knives since 2021, along with a spike in robberies.
No excuse about the Governor being responsible for national security removes the Government from also bearing some responsibility for the security of our constituents and residents. Both the Government and the Opposition must leverage all available means to influence positive outcomes regarding security for everyone on our Islands. This includes considering increased resources for law enforcement if necessary.
Unfortunately, the current PACT government has remained notably silent on the pressing issues of crime and crime prevention, despite the growing concerns surrounding armed robberies in our communities.
Ensuring public safety and addressing crime should not be a matter of political disagreement. That’s why the Progressives initially supported the actions proposed by the PACT government.
In their 2021 strategic policy statement, the government committed to creating safer communities, drawing heavily from successful initiatives implemented by previous Progressive governments. These included increased funding for the RCIPS, diversion programs for youth, and efforts to reduce re-offending rates.
However, the recent strategic policy statement launched by the Premier in April reveals a disappointing shift. Many of the promised actions have been either abandoned or diluted. It appears that the current government’s approach primarily revolves around data collection and social media posts, which cannot substitute real action to address the growing violence.
We cannot afford to delay crime control for the next two years while the Premier hopes for improvement and internal disputes consume PACT Ministers’ attention.
Therefore, today I want to put forward the Progressives’ agenda for action on crime:
1. Empower the police to consistently and persistently disrupt criminal gangs and target repeat offenders.
2. Implement “hot spot policing” to concentrate resources where needed.
3. Strengthen community policing programs and hold the Police Commissioner accountable for its effectiveness.
4. Invest in advanced CCTV systems and other needed equipment, and enhance collaboration between law enforcement agencies.
5. Encourage the RCIPS, Coastguard, and Customs and Border Control to collaborate in detecting illegal boats smuggling drugs, guns, and criminals.
6. Provide support to individuals leaving prison, including employment and housing opportunities, and access to mental health and addiction support services.
7. Provide counselling support and cognitive behavioural programmes to help tackle criminal attitudes and beliefs.
8. Focus on preventative measures to divert young people from gangs and criminal activities.
9. Expand and actively support neighbourhood watch programmes.
10. Encourage our citizens to assist the police by reporting whatever they see or know about criminal activity. Make it easier to report crime and ensure confidentiality.
I encourage the Premier to take up these ideas and consider them. This is a time when we need to come together for the benefit of our people, not score political points. One way or another, action must be taken now to reduce serious crime, enhance the safety of our communities and maintain Cayman’s reputation as a safe place to live, work, visit and do business.