Youth Anti-Crime Trust (ACT) Chairperson Bonnie Anglin lamented that despite the increase in crime, government support for the crime prevention organisation continues to be very minimal.
Ms Anglin further stated that there has also been a reduction in the safety, security and quality of life in the Cayman Islands.
A major initiative the organisation has been advocating for is the development of a National Crime Prevention Strategy. Ms Anglin pointed out there was no mention of this strategy during the July 2016 – December 2017 budget debate in the Finance Committee.
She stated there was also no support for Youth ACT as a non-profit organisation despite its crime prevention efforts through presentations of youth crime prevention progammes.
“When are we going to address crime?” she asked.
“Despite this youth crime prevention programme being a recommendation as a strategy of the Cayman Islands National Security Council (NSC), there is still no dedicated funding by way of a Purchase Agreement within the next 18-month budget of the Cayman Islands. We can only be left to believe that we (the people) are still not aware of the short-term effects of crime(safety, security and a reduction in our quality of life) and the long-term effects which affects the economy and our economic growth and development,” Ms Anglin stated.
She added that an increase in crime results in the redirection of funds from areas such as education, health and social development to the criminal justice system, including prisons, police and courts.
“Crime can be reduced by the programmes Youth ACT has identified that we can do; effective programmes like Youth Crime Prevention Day, vocational training programmes for the unemployed and “unemployables”, Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) a best practice programme and programmes in the prison,” Ms Anglin said.
She added that these are all in the National Security Council strategies to reduce crime. The NSC is headed by HE Governor Helen Kilpatrick. However, these strategies cannot be effectively implemented because the Youth ACT organisation cannot get any form of dedicated and stable funding from government.
She said government funding is minimal leaving them to depend on private entities such as Sol Petroleum Cayman Limited and the retailers of the Esso Service Stations, which have recently partnered with the organisation, for support.
Just this week the organisation presented its Youth Crime Prevention Day (YCPD) programme to Year 10 students of Clifton Hunter High School (CHHS) at the school on 24 June and John Gray High School (JGHS) at the Family Life Centre, on 28 June, from 8:30am – 2:50pm.
“This is an exciting moment for us as we have achieved our goal of expanding the YCPD to include this age group (14-16 years) for the first time, as a result of an island fundraising campaign by our main sponsors Sol Petroleum and their ESSO Dealers. In addition, we are grateful for the additional sponsorship from Rotary Central and the Ministry of Community Affairs and Youth,” the organisation stated.
The YCPD was revised for age-appropriate content and effectiveness and was presented in an interactive non-traditional educational setting to educate children on the causes and consequences of crime and to empower them with the knowledge to make positive decisions.
Burglary, robbery, theft and offensive weapons, life of crime/drugs and bullying were among the hard-hitting topics the students learned about during the programme.
Since the YCPD programme’s pilot in May 2013, it has been presented to over 2,000 Year 8 students at CHHS, JGHS and Layman E Scott High School in Cayman Brac.
The organisation travelled to Cayman Brac in 2014 and presented to Years 8 – Years 11, as this was viewed as more cost effective than bringing the students to Grand Cayman. However, due to lack of funding, the organisation has been unable to continue to fund the programme for the Cayman Brac students.
The YCPD programme has been endorsed as “an effective youth crime reduction programme” in the Government’s 2013/2014 Policy Statement and as “an intervention strategy to address at-risk youth anti-social behavior” by the Minister of Education; and supported by the Deputy Governor and Foreign Commonwealth Office through the Governor’s Office.