The poor response of the police to domestic violence cases and the ridicule which victims endure at police stations were some of the issues stakeholders raised at a meeting yesterday with Police Commissioner Gary Griffith.
The top cop has promised that change will come.
Griffith met yesterday with officials from Womantra, the Ministry of Health, the Coalition against Domestic Violence, the Judiciary, the Coalition Advocating for the inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), Conflict Women, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Network of NGOs, The University of the West Indies, the Child Protection Unit of the TTPS, the Shelter, E-999, Emergency Response Patrol (ERP), Working Women, Women of Substance (Tobago), the Network of Rural Women, and the Inter-Club of Trinidad and Tobago at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain.
According to a release from the Police Service, stakeholders called for the establishment of a Civil Society Advisory Committee which will comprise various NGOs to assist in the development of the Gender-Based Violence Unit.
They also pointed out that perpetrators of these brutal acts have been served with protection orders, but there have been breaches and no follow-up by the police, resulting in fatalities.
Griffith assured there will be a change in the attitude and culture within the Police Service.
The top cop said that with the establishment of the Gender-Based Violence Unit, which will be launched on January 21, a better system of delivery will be rolled out. He is hopeful that with the new system, there will be a spike in reporting of domestic violence reports as more people will trust and have faith in the Police Service.
Griffith said formation of the new unit was not as a result of the domestic violence-related murders last week, but a plan he conceptualised months ago. He informed attendees that police officers were trained by an international agency which has reduced domestic violence in New York.
The Commissioner also gave statistics on domestic violence murders over the last five years, as well as the increase in breaches of protection orders.
“It will not be business as usual. We will be rolling out a massive public awareness campaign against domestic violence. Time has come for all citizens to be their neighbours’ keepers. They must no longer keep silent and allow someone to be killed. It is time for people to speak out and report what they see. You will be saving a life. Don’t come and say afterwards what you knew. It may be too late,” said Griffith.