The RCIPS welcomed three officers from the U.K. with extensive expertise in child abuse investigations and child protection to conduct a full review of all open investigations currently assigned to the Family Support Unit on Jan. 3.
In the course of this review, estimated to last about three months, cases will be assessed and completed in as timely a manner as possible, and referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for charges where appropriate.
The officers will focus on open investigations, and primarily child abuse investigations, but will also be reviewing RCIPS policies and procedures and advising on the implementation of international best practices in this area.
This outside assistance has been engaged as a result of an audit of the Family Support Unit’s cases and procedures conducted by Detective Superintendent Pete Lansdown, which identified a number of cases requiring further investigation, as well as critical risks in the resourcing and rising workload of the Family Support Unit. This audit was undertaken after Justice Timothy Owen voiced grave concerns last September about inexcusable delays in a police investigation into child sexual abuse allegations made in 2012.
“Clearly, we need to make some fundamental changes in this area of our law enforcement work,” said Derek Byrne, Commissioner of Police. “The establishment of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub this month will provide us with a good basis for needed changes and improvements, as will the input of the officers who joined us yesterday. We must respond to the changing needs of the islands with proper support for child abuse investigations going forward, which are among the most sensitive and difficult for any police service.”
The U.K officers also have extensive experience in working in MASH units in the U.K., and will be able to lend their expertise in cross-agency collaboration and safeguarding procedures as a MASH Unit is established in the Cayman Islands. The unit is intended to bring together all relevant agencies to ensure proper management of cases and policy across government, in coordination with the Cayman Islands Child Safeguarding Board. Joint operations between the RCIPS, FSU, DCFS and HSA Counselling Services are set to begin later this month.
“Having these structures in place will enable faster progress toward a strong child protection regime through timelier interventions, and overall, greater prevention of child abuse and the lifelong damage caused by it,” said Mr. Byrne, “this is our ultimate goal.”