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The Editor Speaks: Family support unit is a disaster

The RCIPS Family Support Unit over the last five years is a disaster.

Three U.K. officers who looked at investigative delays and issues at the RCIPS Family Support Unit said police officers at the Unit were stressed out, overworked, and under-resourced.

The officers found out of 92 cases they were investigating, it considered 89 were satisfactory and the other 3 that were “red-flagged” occurred between 2012 and 2014. All three are awaiting a final decision.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner Derek Byrne said last Friday, “There was an over-reliance on some persons; some persons had a better capacity to manage their work. Other persons, unfortunately, didn’t have that self-management capability or capacity. Not everything was wrong. We have had some very good prosecutions.”

One police constable and one police supervisor were reassigned from the unit as a result of the review, said Byrne but no officers had been fired because of the investigative blunders.

The famous case that highlighted the disaster within the RCIPS Family Support Unit was when a “not Guilty” verdict was recorded in September 2016 involving the sexual assault by two persons upon an innocent underage girl. The initial complaint was brought to the attention to the police in 2012, but the case did not come to court until July 2016!!

The Judge Timothy Owen said the police investigation into the matter had been “grossly incompetent.”

Those words were mild.

As a result of that case the three UK officers arrived here and a a complete re-evaluation of the police department’s handling of family unit cases was undertaken.

I am not sure the name given to the new department unit is very good as it relates to family support. It is being called MASH. One automatically thinks of the chaos surrounding a unit of medical personnel stationed at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War. First a novel, then a movie and famously a highly popular TV series. The RCIPS’s MASH stands for Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.

Who comes up with these titles so they can be abbreviated like this? Do they think they are being clever? With such a sensitive subject surely someone could have come up with something else?

MASH includes eight social workers, a Health Services Authority psychologist and eight police officers.

Now it has been determined two child sex abuse cases will probably be abandoned and a third with “serious errors” may go to court.

At least the Commissioner apologized and said, “We have not met our obligations in the past, but we’re moving forward.”

Byrne, was not here when this disaster happened. I wonder what his predecessor would have said if he hadn’t retired with full pay and a gong?


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