As heinous crimes continue to be committed against women and children, a Special Victims Unit within the Police Service will be launched early next year.
Announcing this at the police media briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain, head of the Gender-Based and Violence Unit acting Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne appealed to the public to intervene when a woman or child was being abused.
“Women and girls are being targeted and hunted,” she lamented.
Commending the women who intervened last week in Arima when a man attempted to carry away a young girl who appeared to be intoxicated, Guy-Alleyne said, “We are asking the public to continue to intervene when you see something that is not right.”
She added, “Women when you see women threatened and abused lend a helping hand with good intentions. Do not just gossip about her. Men when you see other men disrespecting our women and girls on the street, in public places, workplaces call out to them, tell them that is unacceptable behaviour. Don’t just laugh. Laughing empowers that person to continue in that heinous act and men again, when a woman says no, no means no. No, doesn’t mean she means yes by body language or otherwise.”
She said Police Commissioner Gary Griffith launched the GBVU because women were being targeted and it was also for this reason that the Special Victims Department was being set up.
She said the department would encompass the Child Protection Unit, GBVU, and the newly formed Sexual Offences Unit.
She said, “To the critics who might complain about another unit within TTPS, it was necessary because such crimes were heinous and victims might be embarrassed.
“Within the TTPS, the commissioner wants to create an avenue where victims would be comfortable and he wants to reduce the trauma that victims suffer.”
Griffith, who also addessed the media, added the unit would ensure that reports of sexual abuse would be treated with a higher level of discretion, confidentially, and professionalism.
He said they will also be using technology, including DNA to solve sex crimes. Guy-Alleyne also noted that since the GBVU’s inception to November 30, 264 people had been arrested and 345 charges preferred.
Pointing out that the most prevalent offence had been the breach of protection order, she called on judicial officers to enforce Section 20 (1) of the Domestic Violence Act. According to the Act, she said, a first conviction for that offence carried a fine of $50,000 or one-year imprisonment, a second conviction carried $150,000 or imprisonment for three years and any subsequent conviction carries a $250,000 fine and imprisonment for five years.
“I am yet to see any part of this applied to an offender who is before the court. And we would be happy within the TTPS if this section can be applied,” she noted.
She also asked members of the public and even police officers not to dismiss someone who reported that they were being abused.
“If a woman or a child discloses an abuse or any criminal matter to you, we are asking citizens to believe them, even my colleagues, other police officers not attached to the Gender-Based,” she said.
She also asked that if a survivor asked for assistance to help them, not to criticise or judge them.
She also advised that complaints to the TTPS could be made by calling 999, 555, via online reporting, the TTPS app, or at a police station.