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Welcome remarks

Published 21st May 2019, 1:2pm

I bring you a warm Caymanian welcome to our Islands and the 34th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Association of the Caribbean Commissioners of Police.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Improving Regional Policing Effectiveness in a Changing World”.

The world – and especially our world in the Caribbean – is indeed changing. Every part of our region is being impacted by concerns over crime and the perception that our communities are becoming less safe places in which to live or to do business.

Here in the Cayman Islands we are on our way in reducing crime and I just wanted to share some of our experience with you.

Our Constitution gives responsibility for policing to our United Kingdom-appointed Governor. Some past Commissioners have seemed to see this as meaning they did not need to engage with or listen to the elected Government.

I am delighted that our current Commissioner Derek Byrne has taken a very different view. Under his leadership, improving the safety of our communities has become what it always should have been – a joint endeavour between the police and the elected Government. We have welcomed the Commissioner’s willingness not just to engage with us as elected politicians but also to get out and talk directly to – and to listen to – our people. He has responded to our concerns and we have been willing to invest the resources that the Commissioner has told us he needs in order to cut crime and make our communities safer.

We have shared in a new approach to keeping neighbourhoods safe, promoting visible and responsive policing while also recognising and facilitating the roles that communities themselves can play in keeping their areas safe. We have come together to deliver a series of changes that better secure our borders and reduce the threats of drugs, firearms and the illegal movement of people. We have worked jointly to respond to a range of new threats from cyber-crime to money laundering.

I am pleased to say that this shared philosophy and joint action is truly paying off.

Our new Cayman Islands Coast Guard is up and running and we have combined the law enforcement units of Immigration and Customs into a single, cohesive Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control Agency. They, along with the new Coast Guard, have the responsibility for protecting our borders, whether by air or sea, making it difficult for illegal drugs, guns or people to enter our country.

In April we welcomed a new Airbus H145 helicopter; part funded by the United Kingdom Government. It is an important part of our additional response capability as well as being part of our overall policing and security resource. The helicopter is being used for law enforcement, medevac, air and sea rescue and for supporting our British Overseas Territories neighbours in their times of need.

I believe the most significant contribution to long term crime reduction that any of us in the Caribbean can make is the early identification of young people at risk of offending and supporting them to make more positive choices about their futures.

The anti-gang strategy that the National Security Council has commissioned will be an important part of our efforts to support young people, as well as targeting gang activity directly.

Everyone in this room, I believe, will agree that community safety is not just a policing issue; neither here in Cayman or in the jurisdictions that you come from. All governments have a role to play, as do all communities.

I do hope that your time at this conference will be fruitful and edifying.

Before I close, it would be remiss of me to not encourage you to experience our wonderful beaches and sea and get to know the real jewels of the Cayman Islands – our people. I do hope you enjoy your time on Grand Cayman and get out to see some of our sites. And, if you have time, please visit Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. All three of our Islands are unique and you will be welcomed with open arms.

I do thank you for being here and I hope you enjoy the conference and your stay in the Cayman Islands.