Sex crimes against children soar

Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 03:30

The T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) Child Protection Unit (CPU) says it is concerned about the prevalence of sex crime against children. This as only 28 per cent of child abuse cases investigated by the unit have been resolved, while 84 per cent of the cases are currently before the court.

The statistics were given by the CPU’s Insp Beverly Paul during the weekly police briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain yesterday.

The CPU, which was established in May 2015, has so far investigated a total of 3,108 cases since its inception.

“The number of matters under investigation for the period May 2015 to December 2015 totals 986 and matters of the year 2016 totalled 2,122,” Paul said.

For 2016, Paul said 591 matters were resolved and in 2015, 271. In total, matters before the court from 2015-2016 totalled 722.

Paul said the cases of sexual penetration and sexual touching were the most prevalent offences investigated. Acting Supt Beverly Rodriguez added that most of those cases happened within the family unit, where the victims were interfered with by family members.

Boy children between the six to 11 years had the highest number of sexual offences of 260 for the period May 2015 to December 2016, while girls from 12–16 years totalled a whopping 775.

The CPU was established to fulfill the requirements of the Children Act 12 of 2012, the Children Authority Act Chapter 46:10 and the Children Community Residences, Foster Homes and Nurseries Amendment Act 2008. However, when asked what the relationship between the CPU and the Children’s Authority was like, Paul admitted there were “a bit of teething problems” because of manpower issues at the authority.

“The relationship is very good. We meet regularly. Sometimes, though, we would want medicals to be done immediately but it may take longer because of manpower issues,” Paul said, although she did not elaborate on the matter.

She noted that whilst the CPU is responsible for investigating the criminal aspect of child abuse reports, the Children’s Authority is responsible for the psycho-social interventions which assist the victims to maintain a sense of stability in his or her life. “The CPU has been able to and continues to positively impact the rights and well-being of children by ensuring reports of abuse committed against children are investigated and the necessary redress afforded to the child,” Paul said.

Contacted yesterday, senior communications associate at the Children’s Authority, Shemelle Paradice, admitted they had faced several challenges due to staff shortage because of the high volume of reports of abuse coming to their attention since becoming operational in May 2015.

However, she said they continue to carry out their mandate to provide care and protection for children at risk of being abused or those who have been abused.

She said the authority is cognisant of the current financial restraints facing the country, but said following recent meeting with their line ministry they were “confident that the issue of manpower shortfalls is high on the agenda for resolution.”

Paradice said the authority is also seeking to reduce instances of abuse by reminding the public that child protection is everyone’s business and that parents and guardians have a responsibility to protect their children from abuse.

SOURCE: (Rhondor Dowlat)