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Cayman cops move to tackle crime

Published:Friday | April 30, 2010 | 12:00 AM

FOURTEEN BRITISH policemen have temporarily joined the Cayman Islands police force as the Caribbean territory attempts to tackle a rise in gang-related crime.

At the same time, David Baines, the islands' police commissioner, has cancelled all rest days and vacation for police officers and put them on 12-hour shifts. Non-essential police services have also been suspended to boost police visibility on the streets.

Since the start of the year, the 390-member police force has been stretched as it attempts to solve the islands' five murders, and one kidnapping case, as well as armed robberies and shootings.

Business leaders in the territory have expressed fears that the rise in crime could hurt its image as a safe finance and tourism destination.

Tighter security

Last week, Governor Duncan Taylor, speaking at a specially convened press briefing to update the public on the work of the National Security Council (NSC), said the crime-fighting strategy would include tighter immigration security, education and employment issues, and speeding up the justice system. The governor also spoke about the need for a gang-reduction strategy.

"We need to demystify the idea of gangs and reduce the attraction to young people," Taylor said.

Police say there are some 30 criminal gangs in the Caymans, with names like Jamaican Posse, Central Crew, West Bay Mobsters, East End Crew, Fern Circle and Wild Dogz.

Gangs, which gained a foothold in the Caymans in 1996, have been involved in the trans-shipment of drugs to the United States, as well as in the local drug trade, Detective Chief Inspector Patrick Beersingh of the Joint Intelligence Unit said, in a report published by Reuters news agency.

The police say shipments of marijuana and cocaine from South and Central America are brought into The Cayman Islands via Jamaica, Honduras and Panama and then moved on to the United States.

They say guns are also smuggled in by Jamaicans in boats.