Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Crimes-Czar-Us (crime in Cayman)

I’ve been trying to think up a slogan for the proposed Office of the Coordinator of the three Islands’ Crime-Prevention and Law-Enforcement Agencies and Organisations. “Crimes Czar Us” is the best I can do. Any other offers? The Coordinator will need all the help he or she can get. My column in this weekend’s Cayman Net News expresses serious doubts that the Office would or could be effectual.

My blog of 8th July wondered if the RCIP was wholly relevant any more, and suggested it phase itself out of crime-prevention altogether. Concentrate on the old community-policing task of “thief-taker” (investigating crimes and catching suspects), and leave crime-prevention to private businesses and individuals. What might a Czar be able to do that the Commissioners apparently can’t do?

Cayman is a difficult place to police. There are umpteen ethnic minorities, none of them fully integrated with any of the others. Our languages include twenty or more dialects of English, Spanish as she is spoke in each of a dozen nations, Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu and Cantonese. The main religion is Christianity, with either Hinduism or Islam in the second rank - all with umpteen varieties and all competing with the intellectual force of post-religion heathenism.

The minorities don’t live in ghettoes, but each operates in a fairly tight self-protective circle- ethnic Caymanians most of all. Our government’s law-enforcement agencies view this hodge-podge as a single community; after all, how much internal division can a tiny community of 50,000 have? The agencies make no concessions to the differences in cultures: that’s no way to control crime or catch criminals.

Of the two chief law-enforcement agencies, Immigration is the more influential, and the one whose policies most threaten our peace and security. The Police are top dog in theory, but this is a case of the tail wagging the dog. Immigration has the power to save favoured criminals from trial and prison by deporting witnesses and complainants. In effect that gives it a veto over criminal prosecutions; you can’t get more influential than that!

The top priority of Crimes-Czar-Us (CCU) ought to be to exhibit a commitment to openness and transparency. If it doesn’t, it will be dismissed by the general public as unresponsive and unreliable, and perhaps irrelevant. Openness would help identify the exact nature of corruption within government, and might help focus the search for individuals involved in it.

Another CCU priority might be to question the prohibition of legal access to ganja, decades after proof of its failure. There is no logic in treating the drug more severely than alcohol. It’s a lot safer, after all: very few pot-heads beat up their wives and children while under the influence – unless of course they have been drinking as well. Legalise it and tax it, is my advice.

The toughest job on a CCU agenda would be to create a link with every ethnic minority. Reaching out to those groups would set the CCU on a collision course with an Immigration bureaucracy that is inherently hostile to them. Well, that can’t be helped. The RCIP has always gone out of its way to be chums with Immigration, and that has cost the Force every bit of trust it ever had.

Would a Crimes Czar be nimble enough to avoid the trap? We must hope so. If not, the whole project will founder. Then, it would be a futile and expensive gesture like the Tempura and Cialis operations. Cialis, was it? Some Celtic word. You know the one I mean…