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‘Staggering increase’ in juvenile court cases – Attorney-General

Juvenile court cases soared in 2021, MPs heard on Friday in the House of Assembly.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, told the House that new cases sent to the family courts dropped nearly one third in 2021 over the previous year.

But she added: “This is to be counter-balanced by the staggering increase in the number of juvenile cases filed, which tripled over the 2020 figures from 52 to 158.”

Domestic violence protection orders also rose significantly, from 64 in 2020 to 115 in 2021.

Ms Simmons said the number of cases heard last year under the Children’s Act 1998 rose 6 per cent but the “severity and complexity” of cases remained the same.

Child support payments received by the court remained consistent, she said, indicating that while people might have lost employment or income because of the pandemic, “they still put the welfare of their children as a priority”.

The Supreme Court dealt with 35 indictments filed last year, with 41 civil and criminal appeals filed from Magistrates’ Court.

Ms Simmons said that last year the Supreme Court registry processed 417 new civil matters filed, along with 139 divorce petitions.

The Attorney-General gave an overview of the justice protection programme, which shields critical prosecution witnesses.

She said the programme had been allocated $325,000 for 2022-23.

Ms Simmons told the House that seven witnesses had been helped over the past fiscal year with protection and relocation while giving evidence in “high-profile or high-risk cases before the courts”.

It included assisting Cayman with the protection of one of the jurisdiction’s witnesses.

In the 11 years since the programme began, 34 participants were enrolled.

Since family members can also qualify, 52 people were given protection since the programme launched in 2010.

The average duration of enrolment is three years.

Ms Simmons said that protected witnesses had taken part in 24 trials, obtaining convictions in all but three — yielding an overall conviction rate of 87.5 per cent.

She said the programme had shown its worth particularly in trials for gang-related violent offences.

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Published March 14, 2022 at 7:39 am (Updated March 14, 2022 at 7:39 am)

‘Staggering increase’ in juvenile court cases – Attorney-General

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