September 21, 2020

Experts sought to solve gang warfare

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Members of the business community gather on Tuesday night

Merseyside Chief Constable Jon Murphy, the UK’s top cop for serious and organised crime, will arrive in Cayman next week to advise local police on battling gang activity

He will arrive on 3 October with the first group of 20 UK police officers — two senior investigative officers, three sergeants and 15 officers – to work alongside the RCIPS, expediting inquiries into the five murders and related violence since 13 September, conducting interviews and finding witnesses.

In a Tuesday-evening, Chamber of Commerce-sponsored speech to Cayman’s business community in a packed Westin Hotel ballroom, Governor Duncan Taylor said he and Commissioner of Police David Baines had invited Mr Murphy to offer his expertise to fight Cayman’s recent surge of shooting deaths.

“Police from the West Midlands were here last year,” he said, “and now Mr Murphy himself will come out next week.

“He has expertise in fighting gang crime in the UK and will look at what we are doing and what more we might do,” Mr Taylor said.

“Should we use different tactics?” the governor asked. “Maybe we are not going hard enough. Maybe we should use American tactics, or what they do in Canada and Mexico. I have talked to a Canadian expert on policies and tactics, asking if we are doing the right things or if we should do other things.”

The governor also announced, in the wake of the 31 August acquittal of Devon Anglin, accused of murdering 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes, that a specialist in prosecution and forensics would soon arrive to advise police on compiling and presenting court cases.

“It’s a delicate subject,” Mr Taylor said, alluding to post-acquittal comments by Mr Baines and counter-arguments from legal fraternity doyen Raymond Alberga “I have considered bringing out prosecution specialists and a forensic specialist to see how cases are put together, and the expected forensics evidence, with a view to doing better.

“Cases may not be presented in the best possible way,” Mr Taylor said, “so we will get help to review this in an open manner.”

Police Commissioner David Baines with Governor Duncan Taylor

Responding to a question from the Westin audience, Commissioner Baines revealed background information on local gangs.

In 2009, he said, he had suggested that approximately 15 “trigger men” were on the streets, but those numbers were no longer appropriate.

“Two of them are abroad, two are dead and the others have been arrested. Some of those are in Northward, and some have gotten out,” Mr Baines said.

“Gangs go back about 14 years, when there were two distinct gangs,” battling for control of particular areas. Today, he said, “there are 13 separate gangs, but with alliances to one another.

“The focus is in West Bay, and Birch Tree Hill and Logwoods, and the disputes are in geography, family ties, sometimes girlfriends and drugs,” he said.

Leaders, triggermen and enforcers, the commissioner said were between 14 years old and 30 years old. Birch Tree Hill counted 35 “collective members” and Logwoods numbered “between 15 members and 16 members”.

“You can double those numbers when you include gangs in Bodden Town and east of there. Gang members are known to each other since they were about 14 years old and there are splits among them over issues of, say, criminal payouts,” Mr Baines said.

“We monitor each of them and the areas where they operate. It involves a kind of criminal lifestyle,” he said. “They are unemployed and not part of the kind of normal lifestyle we enjoy.”

 

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