Outcomes - Selected Case Summaries

$50 Unpaid Fine Results in Arrest of Pregnant Woman

Investigation | 17 June 2019
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS)

A pregnant woman was arrested by the police on an outstanding Summary Court warrant for an unpaid fine of $50.00. The case generated significant public interest as video footage of the arrest was circulated on social media and the Ombudsman decided to investigate as a matter of public interest. RCIPS officers went to the woman’s home to arrest her for the outstanding fine. She was asked to accompany them to the Fairbanks Detention Centre so they could process the arrest warrant. The woman, who was in her last trimester of pregnancy, refused to cooperate with the officers. She said she needed time to get ready and then took a very long time to get dressed. She also told the officers that the warrant wasn’t valid. The officers immediately checked to ensure the arrest warrant was valid and continued with their attempts to arrest the woman. We reviewed the video which was circulated on social media and saw an officer place his hand on the woman’s arm. She appeared to resist the officer by sitting down and the officer pulled her along for a short distance. She eventually agreed to go with the officers to the Detention Centre where the warrant was processed, and she was released.

The Ombudsman found that the arrest warrant was valid, and the officers were acting in accordance with their authorities under the Police Law (2017 Revision). The Ombudsman accepted that the officers were acting in good faith and found that they used as little force as was required to make the arrest. However, the Ombudsman questioned the necessity of the arrest given the very pregnant state of the woman and her refusal to cooperate. The Ombudsman recommended that the Commissioner of Police remind all officers that they must consider all of the circumstances when conducting their duties and also remind them of their discretionary authority. The Ombudsman questioned the timing of the arrest and suggested that it was not an urgent matter and offered her opinion that it could have occurred later. The Commissioner of Police accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations and they have been fully implemented.