Justice expert IDs systemic problems

| 28/08/2015 | 18 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands courthouse, George Town

(CNS): An expert from the crown prosecution service in the UK has identified a catalogue of measures to improve efficiencies and outcomes in Cayman’s criminal justice system. From simple changes, such as better communication between the police and prosecutors, to new practice directions, Claire Wetton has recommended a list of more than a dozen systemic changes to help improve criminal case management in a report which has now been published by governor’s office following a freedom of information request by CNS.

Wetton spent three months in Cayman at the beginning of this year tasked with improving the capacity of public prosecutions in general but particularly in serious cases such as financial crime, money laundering, asset recovery and drug trafficking. During 2014 there were 2,759 cases, including traffic matters, submitted for prosecution.

During her time on island she found numerous shortcomings with “scope to increase and improve coordinated working within the criminal justice system, particularly between the police service and the Office of the DPP,” she wrote in her summary report.

While Wetton was here she provided guidance and practical solutions to improve existing systems and to develop new processes, some of which have already begun to be implemented, officials said. The establishment of a Criminal Justice Board is providing strategic oversight and the new practice directions are scheduled to come into force on 1 September.

Some of the weaknesses identified by Wetton were well known and some will require legislative change. The adoption and implementation of proactive, purposeful case management systems, as she has advised, within the police, prosecution and courts has the potential to “reduce delay, improve access to justice for victims and witnesses and assist considerably in the prosecution of serious organised crime and financial crime,” the report stated.

From training for the police, restorative justice and general case management, the report calls for a systemic overhaul, especially regarding weakness in the collection of evidence and building cases, as Wetton noted that the police and prosecutors are working in silos rather than together and files are constantly returned by prosecutors to police because of missing evidence.

“This impacts the court process and causes delay and adjournments,” she said, as she pointed to the need for robust charging and the discontinuation of charges when there is no evidence until they have it. The report indicated that people are being charged in the complete absence of evidence, which results in wasted court time if police are unable to find it because cases have to be dropped.

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Richards QC said shewelcomed the report. “We have already begun to work with colleagues in the RCIPS, the Courts and the Ministry of Home Affairs to consider the recommendations and explore how best they can be progressed. We particularly welcome the Practice Direction, which has potential for the most far reaching change in the justice system,” she said.

During Wetton’s visit officials said a new Criminal Justice Board (CJB) was established. It has met twice since that time and is scheduled to have quarterly meetings going forward. Justice Charles Quin is currently chairing a group which is working on sentencing guidelines and the Chief Justice has published the practice direction, which will commence next week. The Attorney General’s Office is reviewing some of the recommendations requiring legislative changes and the police commissioner is looking at a new system in the Turks and Caicos Islands to improve the current cumbersome and inefficient system.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick, who organised the arrival of Wetton, said she believed her work would help reduce criminality in the Cayman Islands through a more efficient criminal justice system.

“The report describes the practical changes which have been made and recommends further areas for work.  The deployment is an excellent example of cross government working and professionalism between the RCIPS, the Office of the DPP and the Courts who embraced the aims and objectives of this project,” she added.

The full report which was released following an internal review of an earlier refusal.

Read the full report on the UK Government’s website: Report of Criminal Justice Advisor to the Cayman Islands

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Category: Courts, Crime, Police

Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    And this is going to be fixed by those who caused the problems in the first place? Heads should roll, starting with the Attorney General and the Director of Prosecutions! Bring in new blood, and people who are trained and experienced.

    What training and experience did the AG and DOP have? Only what they gained in our own civil service! They had nothing new to bring to the table. But got where they are by the age old usage of the word “seniority” and of course political expedience.

    Bringing in people at that level from the outside who have no political or family connections in our small community is the way to go.

    What a mess.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So, the system is broken and its operators not up to their task. So glad we now know that. Now what?

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is the stage where, if Caymanians were in controll of these departments, heads would have to roll.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately we don’t have any Caymanians bright enough to do these jobs so we have to put up with foreigners.

      • Anonymous says:

        But then again, the foreigners are the ones who may not have been up to the task. Perhaps we should look to recruit the next round from a system that actually works!

  4. Anonymous says:

    That’s a shame. I hope this document wasn’t edited to “ease its tone” or deny our people knowledge of the original authors findings and unbias opinion.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My goodness me! How surprising!! Inefficient? Practices need tightening up? I could have sat in the UK and read CNS every day and could have written that report for a lot less cost.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The number one thing that can be done is for juries to be drawn from residents as a whole. Cayman juries are notorious for acquitting in the face of clear and sufficient evidence.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think this report dispels your hypothesis completely ………. It is not the Cayman juries that were at fault for lack of convictions ………….. It was, and continue to be the ineptitude of the Police, the AG’s office and the OPP. All headed up by “Driftwood”.

      If the evidence is not there, or is not presented, how can you blame the jury for an acquittal?


  7. Muppets in Wonderland says:

    What is the annual spend on police, prosecutions and justice? Probably north of $100,000,000.

    Never in the history of the world has so much been spent to achieve so little.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Initiating a criminal case with a complete lack of evidence to support it is criminal in itself or should be.

    • Anonymous says:

      True. Another definition of ‘Due Process’ in the Cayman Islands i.e. Charging Persons without evidence. The Justices and Police hammering away at people’s lives (in court) based on suspicion. What a mess?

      Many times I have to wonder about the purpose of people in Law Enforcement, after reading and witnessing the nonsense these people (unlawfully) do and get paid for ?

  9. Anonymous says:

    If CNS didn’t submit the FOI request the public would never know about the findings. Thanks CNS

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