A tireless and consummately professional public servant, Commissioner of Police David Baines has been named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in Her Majesty the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.
Before coming to the Cayman Islands in 2009 Commissioner Baines spent more than three decades as a police officer in the United Kingdom, where he had a history of developing innovative programmes that targeted crime reduction, built public trust in the police and at the same time contributed to a community’s capability to police itself.
His arrival here four and a half years ago followed an upsurge in violent crime. A flurry of legislation followed that was intended to make the law enforcement process more efficient. The commissioner also requested and received a return to 2009 police budget levels. Furthermore from the start of his tenure he has focused on securing staff numbers to meet the challenges that the Islands face.
Meanwhile the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) began to pursue a policy of visible policing, which is to say increasing their public presence at potential crime sites as a crime prevention measure.
In the years 2010-2012 the country saw significant reductions in crime, although in 2013 statistics showed increases in certain crimes, such as burglary. Mr Baines recognises the impact this has had on public confidence, and says that addressing these areas must be a key focus for the police.
Giving credit for his royal honour to the men and women of the RCIPS, he says “I consider this award recognition, and a thank-you, for what we collectively as the RCIPS have achieved together.”
The RCIPS is made up of some 400 employees from 19 different nationalities including officers, auxiliary officers and support staff, whom the commissioner says are united by a shared desire to serve the community.
Describing the challenges the service must overcome to achieve this vision, he points to a need to gain the community’s trust. “A great many of our employees are committed to being excellent at their jobs in order to better serve the people of the Cayman Islands. Yet people tend to focus on the negative and not see the journey that we’ve been on,” he remarks.
Another issue is encouraging local policy makers and the public to see law enforcement as part of a wider approach to tackling crime levels. As such he champions the approach taken by the National Crime Reduction Strategy, which also points to early intervention and rehabilitation as two essential means of decrease crime rates. This is a strategy that he has previously embraced with success in the United Kingdom.
He recently received recognition for his commitment to training young people in the Cayman Islands, and, in particular, the close working relationship between the RCIPS and the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps. In March of 2013, the Caribbean Cadet Corps Commandants presented Mr Baines with the Caribbean Cadet Medal for services to youth in the region.
It is evidence of his work ethic that in addition to his primary role, he leads and participates in the work of a number of local and regional organisations whose focus is crime and security. The Commissioner chairs the local Anti- Corruption Commission where he led the anti-corruption push before the 2013 General Election. He also sits on the National Security Council and has been the President of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners (ACCP) for the past several months.
He is particularly proud of his selection to lead the regional organization in May 2013, which he says was an honour for himself and a recognition of the important role that the Cayman Islands plays in regional policing despite its small size.
Mr Baines notes that association members are collaborating on a number of projects, including sharing information around crime-related legislation, policies, practice and projects that have been found to be successful in various jurisdictions. Examples include local legislation allowing witnesses to give testimony by video link, as well as the Cayman Islands CCTV project.
Another initiative will allow regional Scenes of Crimes units to share ballistics information, helping police to better tackle the arms trade in the Caribbean.
He attributes special meaning to Project Triage, which resulted from the experience of a regional colleague who had been shot in the line of duty and would have died from blood loss without immediate access to a simple triage kit.
The initiative aims to provide training in triage and emergency response to the 40,000 police officers in the region— many of whom arrive at the scenes of violent crimes before ambulances. Two out of every three gunshot or stab victims die from blood loss rather than their wounds. At the start of the project some 300 of the total number had training and access to the triage kits. This statistic is expected to grow to 7,000 early in the New Year following funding from sponsorships secured by the association.
Before coming to the Cayman Islands Mr Baines filled various senior law enforcement roles in the English constabulary. He served as Major Crime Unit Inspector for the Lancashire police; Detective Chief Inspector (DCI)– Branch Commander of the Regional and National Crime Squad, a fore-runner of the Serious Organised Crime Agency; Head of Corporate Performance for the Greater Manchester Police, the second largest police force in Britain; and Assistant Chief Constable of the Cheshire Constabulary.
While in these various roles he personally developed a number of key policing initiatives that met with great success.
Among these was the development of a neighbourhood policing model for Oldham, Manchester, following his appointment there just after the 2001 race riots.
This initiative made local officers visible within each community. It also relied on close relationships with the agencies responsible for social services, probation, education and housing. In an attempt to inspire trust in the police among the young people in the area, he personally went to every high school in the area to answer grievances and explain how the community policing model worked.
In Salford, Manchester, known as a centre of gang activity, he implemented a similar approach with similar results.
Meanwhile in Cheshire Mr Baines established a partnership with accounting firm KPMG that allowed the police to carefully assess and improve the ways in which it interacted with the public. The programme altered the way that criminal investigations were carried out, ensuring that all lines of active enquiry were prioritized and pursued. This resulted in shorter investigations, speedier arrests and the quicker presentation of offenders to court.
Also in Cheshire Mr Baines collaborated with Chester University to design a programme for police recruits that would provide young officers with foundation courses, and allow them to acquire university level credit towards a degree in the field.
His career as a police officer began when he joined the Lancashire constabulary at the age of 16, following in the footsteps of his father and brother. His original intention he says was to begin a career in the military when he was old enough. Instead he quickly realized that he had found his vocation.
“From day one it was a great experience. The work is always interesting, and on the worst day you can meet the most fantastic people. There is also the fact that no-one else is going to do what we do,” he remarks.
Asked what advice he might offer young people presently considering their own career paths he quickly responds: “Whatever you are doing, it’s about your mindset. Don’t do just enough, do 110%. The only person whose validation you need is yourself and the only criteria you need to be proud of yourself is to be as good as you can be. Whether you are coming into police work, or any other career, your strategy should always be to make things better.”
Mr Baines has attended the Wolfson Management Programme at Cambridge University, and the Strategic Command Course which is a requirement for all Chief Constables and other senior ranks in the United Kingdom. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, where he studied international relations. He and his wife Anne have three children, Andrew, Jennifer and Eleanor.