Gary Griffith

Gary Griffith.

Police officers from the Gender-Based Vio­­lence Unit (GBVU) have made more than 200 arrests resulting in 290 charges related to domestic violence since the unit was launched in January. This according to Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, who was responding yesterday to reports about domestic violence.

“Since its inception to the present date, the officers assigned to the GBVU have exercised their powers of arrests by executing a total 220 arrests and effecting 290 charges,” Griffith said in a statement yesterday.

The most common charges included:

1) Assault by beating, (Section 4 of the Summary Offences Act Chapter 11:02)

2) Assault occasioning actual bodily harm (Section 5(2) of the Summary Offences Act Chapter 11:02) (Section 30 of the Offences Against the Person Act)

3) Breach of protection order (Section 20 of the Domestic Violence Act Chapter 45:56)

4) Malicious wounding (Section 14 of the Offences Against the Person Act Chapter 11:08)

5) Choking (Section 15 of the Offences Against the Persons Act. Chapter 11:08)

6) Malicious damage to property (Section 45 of the Malicious Damage Act. Chapter 11:06)

Officers assigned to the Gender-Based Violence Unit are located in all nine policing divisions, a statement from the Police Service said.

Griffith pointed out in the statement that the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill of 2020, which was assented to in July 2020, prescribes that a police officer shall respond to every complaint or report alleging domestic violence.

The Police Service is mandated to enforce all laws and regulations with which it is charged, the Domestic Violence Act being no exception, he stated.

“All reports and/or complaints received by the GBVU are assigned and investigated.”

Griffith said he noted comments made by members of the public following the recent murders of two women.

Mother of two Reshma Kanchan was chopped to death not far from her Penal home last month. Her ex-husband, Sunil Dookie, has been charged with her murder.

And Tenile Cupid, 23, was found dead of multiple stab wounds at Santa Flora on Tuesday. A 41-year-old man was detained in connection with her killing.

‘Let us know so we can act’

He said the GBVU cannot act upon information it has not received.

“I have observed that many individuals surface after the death of a loved one indicating they knew about the domestic violence occurring in the home, but failed to report such. These include family members, neighbours, colleagues at work, and friends. I am once again urging the public to help us, to help you. Let us know so we can act.”

Griffith reminded the public it was within their right to request a police officer attached to the GBVU when making a report and/or complaint of domestic violence.

He urged the public to exercise that right.

He said an internal audit was conducted within the GBVU, and it was found that all reports received were assigned and investigated.

Head of the GBVU Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne said in the statement she was cognisant of the fact that domestic violence will “surely increase ­during this Covid-19 pandemic because the virus has brought with it economic stress and trauma, and has prevented victims from physically distancing themselves from abusive partners”.

She said interim poli­cies are followed to ensure reports and complaints are still investigated while following Public Health Ordinance regulations.

Griffith said police officers will continue to arrest alleged offenders as per the law, and will continue to assist in obtaining and enforcing protection orders on behalf of victims, and seek prosecution of people where applicable.

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