Complaints about police fall sharply during 2021

| 08/12/2022 | 16 Comments
Cayman News Service
George Town Police Station

(CNS): The number of complaints received about the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service fell significantly in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to the newly released annual report from the Office of the Ombudsman. Complaints decreased to 28 last year compared to 57 in 2020. Only four of the complaints were resolved after a formal investigation, eleven were wrapped up informally and the rest were either abandoned or rejected.

In her message about the work of the watchdog in 2021, the former ombudsman, Sandy Hermiston, said the office had also finally cleared the 144 historic complaints about the police it had inherited when it was created. Some of those unresolved complaints were over a decade old.

Despite resolving most of the issues without any notable problems, Hermiston said that the office had identified a number of challenges posed by the Police (Complaints by the Public) Act and had begun working with the RCIPS and the Attorney General’s Chambers to make recommendations for amendments to the legislation in order to improve the operation of the system. These challenges were not identified in the report.

According to the case note summaries, the complaints received varied widely. They included a complaint about civilian staff on reception being rude to members of the public who went in to report a missing passport, and a suspect who complained that officers choked him as they tried to stop him swallowing a package of cocaine during a drug bust.

In many cases that were related in the report, complainants were just looking for an apology or for the police to investigate a report that they had made rather than seeking disciplinary action against any particular officer.

The ombudsman’s office also conducted its own public interest report after a suspect drug smuggler drowned during a police interdiction at sea. The man had jumped into rough seas at night, and despite an extensive search and rescue operation, he could not be found.

The ombudsman said the accounts of eyewitnesses and police officers were consistent, indicating that the man had jumped into the sea of his own volition, most likely to evade arrest. The ombudsman found there were no suspicious circumstances and the police had acted lawfully trying to prevent the importation of drugs.

Sharon Roulstone, who took over from Hermiston as ombudsman in April this year, recently confirmed to CNS that the investigation she initiated into the death of dog from the RCIPS K-9 Unit in the police kennels is ongoing, but when it is complete the findings will be made public.

Speaking about the report, Roulstone said that because the office is short staffed, it had adopted a modern approach to customer complaints with the creation of an informal resolution process, which is a flexible way of resolving complaints without the need for time-consuming formal investigations.

“We have established an efficient process for the handling of data protection complaints and reports of data breaches and we continue to successfully resolve FOI appeals,” she said, noting that there was much more work to do, particularly in reforming legislation around whistleblower protection and police complaints.

“Some sections of the maladministration complaints and the data protection legislation will need review in the coming year as well,” Roulstone said. “Our office has been around long enough for us to have a good understanding of what’s working and what isn’t. We have already taken plans for reform of certain areas to lawmakers, and we will hopefully be adding to those in the near future.”

See the annual report in the CNS Library.

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    When complaints are filed with the Commissioner, and not an independent oversight body, then there is little credibility in independence, and zero transparency on follow-through which becomes wholly discretionary after receipt. Many complaints just go in the trash and RCIPS can fabricate their own statistics.

  2. annonymous says:

    When you have been locked down half of the year i would suspect complaints would fall. Seems like simple explanation to me. That and no use wasting your time complaining when no does anything about the complaints.

  3. Anonymous says:

    let’s all email complaints in at the same time. how about next Tuesday?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This place is a utter disgrace and is terribly corrupt now and continues to rapidly decline the best years for Cayman has past and now the rabble is running this little place.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Is the Ombudsman office still open ?
    So what happened in 2022 instead of 2021 ?

  6. Anonymous says:

    They would fall… people fed up with complaining and nothing being done about said complaint.

  7. Elvis says:

    They would fall. No one can find any to complain about

  8. Anonymous says:

    People have probably simply realised that making complaints about the police is not only a complete waste of time but potentially opens you up to retaliation by RCIPS.

    • PATSY says:

      I see the OMB is hanging out with the RCIPS. An informal resolution, to avoid formal complaints cause of short staff! Kinda like the Police telling u its not a burglary, someone just stole something from ur house and since its not much it dont make sense to investigate.

      Makes sense! lol

  9. Anonymous says:

    That’s because we’ve given up on making complaints against them! And on another note, regarding the pic in this article, do you guys know that the emergency phone at the entrance is not working, and although there’s a sign that says there’s a defibrillator, there’s not one in sight? Complaints are there, but there’s nobody who cares!

  10. Anonymous says:

    surely there’s an argument that if people have lost faith and they’re not calling them, then no complaints

  11. Anonymous says:

    Complaints fallen coz nobody has seen the police…

  12. Unbelievabubble! says:

    I wonder how many complaints conveniently fell sharply in the bin. Who tallied this metric? Seems quite unbelievabubble.

  13. Waste of time and money says:

    Complaints dropped because people know it is a waste of time. Nothing will happen to?the police.

  14. Anonymous says:

    whats the point?…they are one big overstaffed, overpaid, under-worked expensive joke…


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