UK prosecutor assessing criminal cases

| 04/03/2015 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Government officials have finally released the details of the arrival of a criminal justice adviser from the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service who is here to examine the weaknesses in the local criminal justice system. The governor’s office is funding the short-term attachment of Claire Wetton, who began her 12 week secondment here on 27 January. Officials said Wetton will be focussing on case management and trial issues in the Summary Court, reviewing the Criminal Procedure Code rules, disclosure and witness care, particularly in the prosecution of domestic violence cases, gang crime and dealing with children as witnesses. 

The UK prosecutor will also deliver training to RCIPS officers and provide help and assistance to the director of public prosecutions Summary Court Team and to the court to deal with the weaknesses in the criminal justice system.

Wetton was accompanied initially by Antony Salmon, from CPS International Division in London, who  has now returned to the UK but he will, officials said, continue to provide support from the UK.

Already five weeks into her short-term posting, officials stated in a release this week that her focus is on operational outcomes that will make a real difference to the protection of the public, especially vulnerable victims and witnesses.  The Crown Prosecution Service has an established network of legal experts around the world providing advice and assistance, making them ideal partners for this project, the governor’s office stated.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick described it as an important project.  “Identifying and improving upon procedures which can assist in the smooth and efficient running of the court system is crucial to reducing criminality in the Cayman Islands.  I have asked Claire to meet with me on a regular basis to update me personally on the project as it goes forward,” she stated.

Wetton is expected to be examining the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which has come in for considerable criticism in recent times over a number of issues, from the decision to or not to prosecute and why, disclosure problems, delays and ill-prepared lawyers facing a massive work load.

Cheryll Richards, the DPP, said the office was grateful for the assistance offered with the management of that heavy case load.

“We look forward to working closely with Ms Wetton and have already begun to discuss with her some of the issues faced and suggestions for improvement. We look forward to taking on board any recommendations arising out of this initiative.”

Speaking several weeks ago, when the release was supposed to be released to the press, Wetton, who is from the West Midlands CPS, said she had already established good relations with those who will provide input into this project, including the ODPP, the RCIPS and the Courts.

“I will consider and advise on ways in which some processes can be enhanced or simplified, to reduce the burden on the courts, specifically the Summary Court and ultimately assist in improving the efficiency of the processes,” she added.

Wetton is understood to have also spoken with the Criminal Defence Bar Association but has not made contact with either the Cayman Law Society or the Caymanian Bar Association. Nor is it clear whether or not Wetton will be consulting with the Human Rights Commission.

Despite being picked to give advice on managing the criminal caseload Wetton arrives in Cayman with a history of difficulties in her own department back in the UK. Wetton herself was commended in some cases for her work but reports from the UK’s Inspector of Prosecution Services for 2014/14 found that the West Midlands office where Wetton works was itself inefficient and wasting public funds because of poor decisions and allowing weak cases to proceed.

In addition, the office’s finance manager and her partner were charged and convicted in 2013 in an alleged £1 million taxi fare fraud. Lisa Burrows (41) and Tahir Mahmood (50), a taxi driver who also worked for the CPS, admitted producing invoices for a fictitious taxi firm. The pair defrauded the CPS of £4,000 a week over five years by lodging claims for non-existent journeys. Following the conviction, the West Midlands CPS office refused to explain how Burrows and Mahmood had managed to steal the cash despite four annual audits.

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Category: Courts, Crime, Police

Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Plz CNS PLZ keep tabs on this and post the salary and benefits ie vehicle, housing, per diem payments etc. I’m pretty sure for a 3mths contract she won’t have scratched the surface and so we will see this extended to 2 years. However we have enough of our own attorneys, with a good track record and work ethic who would have gladly shared this with another local atty so they both could get a break in this economic downturn!! But as usual we allow those who are living in the lap of luxury ie home on 7mile beach, car, elec, water, pension, health, optical and dental, clothes done at cleaners, maids, cooks, gardeners etc all paid by us whilst their full salary is deposited for the future to go ahead and make this decision w/o considering the learned we have in our islands or in the jurisdiction who could have done this job……..jesus have mercy on us because it seems we never learn from our past……

  2. Anonymous says:

    When reading the article one has to wonder how she will do a better job here than where she worked and a $1M was stolen?
    But then again of all the QC’s etc here in Caymani and across in our jurisdiction we hire yet again another expat?
    As per usual we get another one hiring one of theirs making sure they get a break from good ole sunny England!!!!!!
    Hmmmmm…..smells fishy to me

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well this should net some interesting results but the real question is will anything be done in the end? They need to setup an email contact where members of the public can make their concerns known to this prosecutor confidentially.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Unless they are willing to investigate possibility of unfair structural bias in the judiciary, due to majority of legal personnel, whether with status now or not, are in control of this system.

    Why is the UK so reluctant to hire their own people to temporarily fill vacancies and balance the system?

    We will never get rid of a Jamaican who comes here because even if they get new passports, go to other countries for work experience, it is here that they return and Caymanians will never make it. We can’t even have a balance between Caymanians and contracted workers, it’s imply majority of Jamaicans hired, so if there is a preference or systemic bias against everyone else in recruitment will the sentencing and time for fair trail be examined in that light as well?

  5. Justus Pirates says:

    From the sounds of it she is going fit right in here with her baggage. No changes needed let beatings continue AAARRRRRR

  6. Anonymous says:

    Finally, something is being done about that mess! However, a secondment of 12 months might be more appropriate instead of 12 weeks!

    • Sharkey says:

      Please make sure to check all the pass miss handle cases, so a better assessment of the legal system can be made. I think that 12 weeks might be too short, unless this is all about getting a good Cayman sun tan .

  7. Rick says:

    If the criminal justice system refuses to play ball with the dirt you do, just have a review, find that there is ‘room for improvement’, and replace those who refuse to play the game. We have seen that game many times before, played by the same people. Always the same results; some locals lose their jobs, the savior from heaven rip us off, and we discover new weaknesses for the next batch of saviors. Meanwhile, the ignorant lap up the slop being fed, and destroy their own in an attempt to get ahead at the expense of their own. Welcome to paradise! Learn the game and get PR. If you do well enough you might even earn status.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank You Its about time now maybe the BS charges I am accused of will finally get a reply from the DPP as it is Your BS charges have cost me millions $ and I will bankrupt your nasty little rock for what you did.

  9. Driftwood says:

    It takes 5 weeks to announce Ms Wetton is here? CIG’s news machine needs an overhaul. Just tell Ms Kerri Kanuga and she will have run the news all over the island in 32 hours and managed to have raised cash for charity at the same time….
    Efficiency review right?

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