1692 domestic violence reports made to Police; 814 persons charged
Out of an alarming 1692 reports of domestic violence emerging in the country last year, the Guyana Police Force prosecuted 814 persons.
This was according to statistics disclosed by Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie during a recent engagement. He further analysed that for 2020, a total of 1665 reports were made and 771 persons were charged.
During this period, 35 reports of Trafficking In Persons (TIP) were recorded, in which 11 persons were hauled before the courts. For 2021, 11 persons were charged for TIP offences from a total of 35 reports and 18 cases made.
According to Hoppie, there has been improvement in the Force’s response and investigative capacity involving issues of domestic violence. This, he credited to the COPSQUAD 2000 programme, coupled with the other specialised training given at the Felix Austin Police College.
Hoppie said Trafficking In Persons and domestic violence is a focal point for the Force; whereby officers are undergoing training to handle such matters in keeping with international best practices.
“In relation to domestic violence, currently Police ranks are being trained under the COPSQUAD 2000 initiative, launched by the Human Service and Social Security with the aim of providing specialised training in dealing with issues of gender-based violence. This augments the institutionalised training being done at the Felix Austin College and ensure that such matters are handled with the required level of seriousness and urgency,” the Top Cop highlighted.
Meanwhile, domestic violence units have been established at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and in every policing region throughout the country.
The COPSQUAD 2000 training programme was launched in August of 2021, by the Human Services and Social Security Ministry in collaboration with the Home Affairs Ministry, with the aim of better equipping Police to deal with Domestic Violence cases.
Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud said during an exclusive interview in the last quarter of 2021 that 75 officers at various levels from various stations across the country were already receiving training. The initiative aims to train 2000.
Additionally, the Minister had stated that they intend train the entire Police Force, which has a complement of 4000 officers, by mid-June of 2022.
The Human Services and Social Security also encourages use of the 914 hotline, which was created so that individuals, including victims of domestic and sexual violence, could call for assistance or report incidences of abuse. The Survivors Advocates Programme, is linked directly to the 914 toll-free number. Through that programme, victims of abuse could access psychosocial support and counselling.
Government has significantly increased the subvention to the organisations providing safe spaces and shelters for women. Fifty million dollars was budgeted for those entities. A court superintendent department would also be established with a cadre of lawyers to lead prosecutions in each regional division for cases of domestic violence.
This year, the gender-based violence app, “iMatter” was redesigned and equipped with a panic button, directly linking persons to the 914 hotline number.
The categories that can be selected include sexual violence and disability, sexual exploitation and abuse, trafficking in persons, domestic violence, child abuse and elderly abuse. The application also contains useful resources and answers to frequently asked questions that would help users understand more about gender-based violence.
Dedicated gender-based violence caseworkers assigned to the gender-based violence technological platform will respond by reaching out to a gender-based violence survivor or individual at risk, via the communication channel that the individual has expressed a preference for. (G12)