Statement by Acting Commissioner
Statement by Acting Commissioner James Smith
Funding for Special Police Investigations
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Today I provided Cabinet with an update on the special police investigations, Operation Tempura and Operation Cealt. Members of the Special Investigation Advisory Group (SAIG), Deputy Chief Secretary, Mr Donovan Ebanks, Strategic Advisor, Mr Peter Gough and Chief Immigration Officer, Mr Franz Manderson attended with me in support of actions that were presented to Cabinet.
I am pleased to report that Cabinet continues to be very supportive of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and will continue to fund the two investigations.
Operation Tempura's active investigations are now primarily focused on preparing for upcoming trials. Senior Investigating Officer Mr Martin Bridger has been leading this investigation and will continue to work on Operation Tempura until the end of April to ensure continuity of the process and facilitate a handover.
An initial report has been completed and passed to me. SIO Bridger will also hand over the preparatory work that he has done on these investigations to his deputy senior investigating officer who will lead Operation Tempura to its conclusion and to a new SIO who will oversee Operation Cealt.
SIO Bridger's departure does not mean that these investigations are over. The investigations are not just about one person. This decision is the result of discussions with Mr Bridger over several weeks, and is supported by both HE the Governor, Mr Stuart Jack, CVO and Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates.
I would like to publicly thank Mr Bridger for his professionalism and for the work that he has done on Operation Tempura and the work he started on Operation Cealt. After 35 years as a police officer, I know how difficult anti-corruption investigations can be.
Over the past few weeks, I have been reviewing each of the statements made by members of the community on alleged incidents of police corruption. Today, I advised Cabinet that I wished to investigate certain of these allegations as a priority.
The SIAG also advised Cabinet on the importance of creating an environment which makes it extremely difficult for corruption to occur in the first place. The initial report that I received in January identified a number of systems in need of improvement.
For example, we need to look at our vetting procedure when we recruit police officers. We also need to look at the way we access information and intelligence because it is imperative that we be able to ensure the public confidentiality when they give us information essential for our work.
These actions will cost money. Along with all SIAG members, I am aware that the economic situation means that Cabinet must look very carefully at any requests for funding. Today we asked Cabinet and received approval for CI $915,810 to continue the work of Operation Tempura up to the end of the current fiscal year and to take forward priority actions on Operation Cealt.
This is a considerable sum, but these investigations are an investment in the future of the RCIPS. I want to see a community with full confidence in its police service. Over the past few weeks, along with my colleagues in the Advisory Group, I have looked very carefully to see where we can make cuts in spending that reflect the current economic circumstances and have examined staffing matters very carefully.
As head of the RCIPS, I can assure the public that I will consider all the allegations that have been made. Some are particularly serious, and must be investigated so that we can establish the truth - and either bring criminal charges in appropriate cases, or end the suspicions against the innocent.