Cayman News Service.com
(CNS): The premier believes the United Kingdom would be better off and the Cayman Islands would be further ahead if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office relinquished control of national security and the management of the police service to the Cayman government via a police authority. Speaking on Radio Cayman, Alden McLaughlin said the current arrangement was not working and has become extremely political, even though the politicians have no say at all in the management of the RCIPS. He also criticised the National Security Council, which, he said, was not functioning as it was envisaged during the 2009 constitutional talks.
“The UK are crazy having responsibility here for national security … It would be far better if the people could hold me or another elected member responsible,” the premier said, noting that over the last decade or so Cayman had hounded four police commissioners out of office because the post has “become so political”.
The premier was speaking about the current arrangements within the constitution regarding the police and crime during his appearance Monday on Radio Cayman’s morning show, For the Record, with Orrett Connor.
In light of the recent resignation of Police Commissioner David Baines, the perceived rise in crime and the pressure from the opposition for an entire review of the police service, McLaughlin raised his concerns about the motion that was filed by the opposition members calling for a no confidence debate in the RCIPS. He said he supported a review of the governance and management structure of the service but thought the motion was irresponsible as it was seeking a declaration that parliament has no confidence in all of the police officers, which was wrong.
Talking about the best way to address the police management, McLaughlin said he still believed, as he had during the talks with the UK over the 2009 constitution, that Cayman needed a local police authority to take control locally. He said that during those talks the idea was discussed with the UK, but with Opposition Leader Mckeeva Bush and his UDP team at the time opposed to it, the UK would not agree and retained the responsibility of national security with the governor.
The only local responsibility for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is its budget, which is in the hands of the home affairs ministry, now led by McLaughlin. The creation of a National Security Council was supposed to give the elected arm more say in policy, but noting that everything to do with police policy remains with the governor, McLaughlin said the NSC did not “function the way it should”.
However, he said the public still looks to the politicians for answers, even though they are not responsible and can do very little to influence what happens with the police.
“The construct does not work and the UK would be well advised to agree to allow a police authority,” he said. “Cayman, the UK and the governor will all be better off if we had a police authority responsible for the police service and the commissioner, instead of the post being line managed by the governor.”
Concerned that it will become increasingly difficult to fill the post of commissioner because of the strength of public feeling that there should be more local control over the police, he said that management of the police had become a “poisoned chalice” but one that he would take on nonentheless, as it “was critical to Cayman”. He pointed out that Cayman had enjoyed a long, peaceful history and when one heard of three armed robberies in one weekend, “those things are chilling”.
Welcoming the discussion and debate, which is now expected to take place in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, 28 April, McLaughlin said he was happy to debate the issues but was concerned that the motion as it stands now, which calls for a declaration of no confidence in the entire police service, will not improve what is already a difficult situation.