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Sergeant Hospedales revealed that over the past three years, there's been a substantial increase in reports of crimes against children.

Parents are being urged to take special care of their offspring for the Carnival Season and beyond, in light of a substantial increase in crimes committed against children in this country.

The appeal was made by Sergeant Valerie Hospedales of the Child Protection Unit (CPU) of the T&T Police Service (TTPS), during the TTPS’ weekly media briefing.

Sergeant Hospedales reported that the CPU has made 29 arrests and laid 44 charges for 2020, so far. She also notes that there has been a 45 per cent increase in crimes against children over the last two years alone.

She also revealed that over the past three years, the Unit has documented a steady increase of 137 per cent in the number of reports of criminal offences committed against children.

The CPU spokeswoman said where violent offences such as cruelty to children are concerned, there has been an increase of 61 per cent, from 2017 to 2018.

With regard to arrests, the CPU made 214 such in 2019; 68 more than 2018. Also in 2019, the CPU laid 590 charges for crimes against children.

“In terms of 2019 outreach figures,” Sergeant Hospedales said, “the Unit was able to sensitise over 6,300 students, parents, teachers and members of the public regarding the rights of the nation’s children, criminal offences against minors, as well as the role of the Child Protection Unit.”

“These figures indicate that the work of the Unit is effective in encouraging members of the public to make reports. It is only through such transparency, collaboration and your cooperation that the Child Protection Unit can successfully execute its work,” she added.

With the Carnival season upon us, Sergeant Hospedales reinforced the need for parents and guardians to take extra care and caution where the young ones are concerned.

“It is important to ensure our children’s safety, whether or not they are directly participating in the activities,” she advocates. “As parents and guardians, it is our responsibility to ensure proper surveillance of our surroundings, to proactively identify potential threats, and take measures to neutralise or reduce said threats.”

She added: “Therefore, I urge parents, caregivers and members of the public to engage in mandatory reporting. Your assistance can save a child’s life and it is also in coherence with the law. Additionally, we advise parents and guardians to find alternative methods of discipline and to not inflict bodily harm, physical abuse and any measure of cruelty to your young ones. Nurturance, protection, love and care is your duty and essential to the healthy development of all children.”

Story by RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT