Acting Commissioner of Police, Edvin Martin has followed through on his promise on assuming the position in July to establish a Sexual Crimes Unit within the Royal Grenada Police Force.
The Special Victims Unit and a sexual abuse hotline, located within the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police Force, was launched last week Wednesday at police headquarters at Fort George.
The Unit, to be headed by Inspector Andrea Victor, will work in collaboration with the Child Protection Authority (CPA) and Flow Grenada, provider of the hotline number 400.
In addressing the ceremony, Acting Commissioner Martin said that the Unit will provide greater support for victims of sexual abuse, early intervention in the community, as well as provide a more aggressive investigative approach by the police especially as the number of sexual abuse cases has increased from 230 in 2017 to 259 in 2018.
He said: “Some of these cases are so repulsive that it is sickening and despicable even to speak about. How can we tolerate 50 and 70-year old individuals molesting kids between the ages of five and 15?
“While I do acknowledge that there is a legitimate concern about under-aged minors and young persons having sex with each other, these occurrences pales by comparison to the number of incidents of adults deliberately targeting and exploiting the innocence and vulnerability of our young persons”, he added.
Commissioner Martin provided statistics which highlighted the case of a 29-year old who is accused of 29 counts of sexual abuse, a 47 year old facing 12 counts and a 57 year old charged with 18 counts of sexual-related offences.
He said these cases involve children as young as two, three, four and seven years that are being molested.
According to Commissioner Martin, the newly created Unit will seek to address problems through a multi-dimensional approach such as from a prevention point of view by proactively getting into the community to investigate matters even before they are reported to the police.
He also said that the unit will collaborate with the community through forums and working with them from on the insides and using the hotline in terms of securing information.
“Through those mechanisms the unit in collaboration with Child Protection Authority and Special Services will be able to get into the community and identify perpetrators on where they are and (where) speculations of these incidences are occurring and have early intervention that can probably stall and deter.
“We believe that that kind of proactive action will create an impact in deterring potential perpetrators or stall perpetration where it is occurring.
“…We also believe on the next level that (there should be) a more aggressive and assertive, dedicated investigative effort on reported cases, trying to bring them to be quickly prosecuted and get justice…quick justice. The faster you have punishment to the crime, the greater the deterrent effect and that could be one of the efforts as well.
Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell who also spoke at the ceremony praised the initiative as one sending the message of a caring society that accepts responsibility for “those who have difficulty in our society.”
Dr. Mitchell pointed out that it is always hard on him as he seems to be helpless at times when confronted by individuals who are victims of sexual abuse.
“I have had cases where a mother sits in front me with two young daughters and talking about problems that they are facing and then you leave there without feeling like you have a solution and you’re sleeping in the night and you get up dreaming…and you get up worrying mostly about these two young girls…wondering what could be happening tonight … it’s not a good feeling.
“…A lot of times people are coming (to me) and saying well the police are not doing enough. What can the police do when those of us who have responsibilities to protect our children (are) covering up and allowing certain persons in society because they are from certain positions because of $2 they have, you allow them to destroy your kids?
“I always find it difficult with some mothers who telling you that they can’t leave this man because how they gonna eat. If he is destroying your children, I don’t know what food you are talking about…I don’t understand the logic in some of us that allow this thing.
The launch of the Sexual Crimes Unit was also addressed by Minister of Social Development, Delma Thomas who warned perpetrators that it will no longer be business as usual.
The senior government minister warned that the Unit will also hold offenders accountable as “the valid evidence of each reported case will be collected, compiled and presented to the court”.
Minister Thomas said: “Offenders of the intimate partner violence, child abuse, rape and other sexual abuse will get the message that committing these crimes is no longer business as usual – if they commit an offence they will be dealt with according to the law.
“…The pain that is suffered by our young people, we cannot over emphasise it. Our goal is not to walk away but to stand up, not to turn away but to face it head on. We can build a society where the services this Unit will provide will be hardly needed, that friends will respect friends, that neighbours won’t violate neighbours, that partners will protect partners and that we all will protect our children but we understand that we all live in a real world so we must build mechanisms to respond to the ill and the evil.
The work of the Unit started on Monday.