09 March, 2007

Outstanding Warrants

Outstanding Warrants.

The following article recently appeared in the Cayman Observer. I have been trying to find out whether Anguilla has a similar problem. I have not been successful. Perhaps, someone who knows could let us know? It is important because the existence of a large number of outstanding warrants means that it is the police and not the court that decides who goes to prison and who does not. That situation is a cause for concern. It tends to corrupt our system of justice:

Police target outstanding warrants

Grand Cayman (28 February 2007) - The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) has assigned four officers to focus on clearing a backlog of about 1,200 warrants and witness summonses held by the court.

Warrants are currently held for a variety of offences such as failing to appear in court to answer charges or pay fines. In the last week, 60 witness summonses and eight warrants have been executed.

Commissioner of Police Stuart Kernohan explained the reason for the crackdown. "The community wants to see punishments that fit the crime and they want to know that the court system is being respected.

"In addition, fines can only really be credible sentencing options if they are enforced properly. Hopefully, the knowledge that offenders will be pursued if they fail to pay will encourage them to obey the rules and pay up," he said.

The officers involved will be working over the next few weeks to execute all the outstanding warrants and bring people before the court.

"Some people may think that they need not worry about minor offences as no one will check on them, but that is not the case," Kernohan said.

"Respect for the court means enforcing all the orders of the court - no matter what the crime or penalty. How can we effectively tackle the big things if we ignore the little things?"

The police are requesting that anyone who may have an outstanding warrant or needs to pay a fine to contact their local police station or the court as soon as possible or face being arrested.

The police reported that on 22 February, the first day of the operation, five people were taken to court on various warrants: for failing to appear to answer burglary charges; for failing to appear to answer charges of assault causing actual bodily harm and carrying an offensive weapon; for breaching a community service order; for failing to pay a $750 fine; and for failing to pay a speeding ticket.

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