Bush 'serious about crime'
(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government has spent more than ten percent of its entire budget on fighting crime and the criminal justice system, the premier has revealed. Speaking at a special ceremony to mark the official inauguration of the customs department’s new hi-tech scanner, the premier said his government was serious about tackling crime. The new equipment, along with an earlier financial boost to the law enforcement budget on top of appropriated funds has culminated in the UDP administration spending more than $57 million this financial year on crime fighting and border security.
McKeeva Bush said he understood that people were frustrated by the rise in crime but his government had invested millions of dollars in the fight against crime and said government would like to do even more, but as everyone knows times are tough.
Bush cut the official ribbon Tuesday evening on custom’s new Heimann Cargo Vision Mobile (HCVM) x-ray inspection system, which, the premier said, would enable the department to check “every nook and cranny” of containers coming into and leaving Cayman. He said he was very pleased that his administration was able to acquire the specialist equipment that the customs department had been wanting for several years.
“This is an important day for crime fighters and customs officers as the equipment can provide 100% inspection,” he said, adding that it fulfilled a long held goal of the department. “This will enhance our capacity to protect the integrity of the Cayman Islands from imported threats and will secure government revenue without interrupting the flow of business.”
Before the state-of-the-art scanner arrived on island customs officers had to randomly inspect containers manually, which meant many units came and went without ever being inspected. As a result of several seizures of weapons found in containers secreted inside toys and household appliances, it is clear that gun smugglers are using the port as one of their means of smuggling in weapons and other illegal contraband.
Bush said his government has spent the money because it was serious about crime and protecting the borders. The new system cost around $3 million but not only will it be used to clamp down on smuggling of drugs and guns it will also improve in revenue collection for government by enabling officers to check every container against its manifest.
Jeffery Jackson, the project leader, told CNS that so far the equipment has been tested on around 80 containers, most of which were empty, but of the dozen or so units carrying goods it has already found undeclared items in one container, enabling officers to collect the extra revenue.
It will also help the local customs department to meet international standards and with regional partnerships. The premier said at the special ceremony that the equipment would be a welcome boost to government coffers but it was welcomed even more by the police as it would now mean that the customs department could directly assist the RCIPS in is fight against gun crime.
He asked for everyone’s patience while the new system became fully operational. While there would be some early delays, in the long run it would speed up the process, he said. The premier also revealed that ten new jobs would be created at customs as a result of the introduction of the new security system and he called on the country to be more supportive of all young officers who were learning the job.
Bush said people needed to criticise less and be more supportive in general of the country’s law enforcement officers in customs and immigration as they all worked very hard and were tasked with the tremendous responsibility of protecting us all. “It is very easy to criticise and say mean things,” Bush added, as he called on the community not to criticise but to encourage and support all law enforcement officers.
The premier also said that while Cayman had experienced a spike in crime recently, it was still much more secure than many other places. “When all said and done, we have much to be thankful for,” he added.
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