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Sgt Valerie Hospedales of the Child Protection Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

Despite a 45 per cent increase in the last two years, the Child Protection Unit (CPU) of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) has made 29 arrests and laid 44 charges for this year so far.

According to the CPU’s Sgt Valerie Hospedales, who was speaking during the weekly TTPS’ media briefing, 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.

Where violent offences such as cruelty to children are concerned, there has been an increase of 61 per cent from 2017 to 2018.

In 2019, 214 arrests were conducted; 68 more than 2018.

In 2019, 590 charges were laid.

“In terms of 2019 outreach figures, 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,” Hospedales said.

“However, 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, 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.

“As parents and guardians, it is our responsibility to properly surveillance our surroundings and proactively identify potential threats and take measures to neutralise or reduce said threats,” she said.

“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,” she added.