The Cayman Islands Complaints Commissioner would have the power to look into alleged maladministration within the police service, even if that mismanagement occurred during the investigation of crime, according to a motion filed by a George Town member of the Legislative Assembly.
Government backbench member Ellio Solomon said his private members motion aims to give Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams’ office broad powers in finding the truth of allegations of malaadministration within the Royal Cayman Islands
“There are issues of maladministration that need to be investigated and I believe this is the only way this is going to be done,” Mr. Solomon said Tuesday.
Since the formation of the Cayman Islands Office of the Complaints Commissioner in 2005, the office and its two leaders – John Epp and Ms Williams – have served as a government watchdog for all sorts of issues within the public sector. However, there are certain areas into which the commission’s remit does
Included in the “matters not subject to investigation” under the law are: “Action taken by or with the authority of the attorney general, the commissioner of police, the chief immigration officer or the collector of customs for the purposes of investigating the crime or of protecting the security of the Islands, including action so taken with respect to passports.”
Mr. Solomon said he believes there are certain instances where that power should be extended to the complaints commissioner. He pointed to one incident earlier this year where a senior police officer was accused of assaulting a junior officer that he felt needed further review.
About a month after that 15 February incident, Police Commissioner David Baines told the Legislative Assembly that “certainly, from the nature of it, no assault has taken place”.
Yet in late July, Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards determined there was enough evidence to bring a charge of assault. However, her office determined it was not in the public interest to prosecute the alleged offence.
“This is one of the things I’m concerned about,” Mr. Solomon said. “[Commissioner Baines] has pretty much decided this guy is innocent before he actually is.”
Members of the police association, the organisation that represents both police officers involved in the dispute, have declined to comment on the case.
Mr. Solomon said he is aware that the most recent version of the Police Law requires the establishment of a Police Complaints Authority.
However, he has doubts about whether that body is a high priority for either the police or the governor’s office or how much it will be able to accomplish if and when it is formed.
“The police authority – when funded – will only handle complaints against conduct of
officers,” he said.
The lack of an established Police Complaints Authority has been holding up the investigation of certain resident
complaints against police officers.
According to records provided under Cayman’s Freedom of Information Law, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has not been able to resolve 19 of 42 public complaints filed against local police officers between September 2011 and
“The government are in the process of establishing a commission to deal with complaints against the police are we are hopeful that it will be up and running in the coming months,” a recent statement from Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor’s office read.
The RCIPS noted the Police Law (2010 Revision) creates an authority with the jurisdiction to “hear a complaint lodged by any member of the general public in relation to the conduct of an officer”.
“Any complaint filed following the formal introduction of the law rests solely with the
authority,” the RCIPS has stated.
“Until that authority is established, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have a professional and legal obligation to record all complaints lodged and preserve any evidence until the authority becomes functional.”