Two years after Congress voted to improve passenger safety aboard cruise ships, crime victims and other supporters of the law say key provisions were watered down — including the mandatory reporting of crimes and how crew members are trained to handle them, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 was designed to give passengers a more accurate picture of shipboard crime and assistance if they became victims of assault, rape or theft. Since the law’s hard-fought passage, reported crimes disclosed to the public have plummeted from more than 400 a year to a few dozen, dramatically understating the number of deaths and sexual assaults and other crimes on cruise ships.
“The law was supposed to give victims some rights, but this does exactly the opposite of its intent,” said Kendall Carver, president of the International Cruise Victims Association. “It’s far worse that it ever was. Lines are now using this law to say how safe they are.” A subtle change in the law’s wording — requested by the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard and inserted by the Senate Commerce Committee staff — allowed the agencies to release to the public only the number of closed cases no longer under investigation. This change runs counter to the common practice of law enforcement agencies across the nation, which disclose the number of reported crimes in their jurisdictions whether there is an investigation or not.