Regional law enforcement officers must take care to treat domestic violence cases with the urgency they deserve.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Oral Williams, in addressing a joint closing ceremony yesterday for the enhanced constables’ development course and the court prosecutors’ course at the Regional Police Training Centre, Seawell, Christ Church, urged the assembled officers to regard any evidence of domestic violence as important.
“You should know that quite a few of the acts which constitute domestic violence are also criminal offences and as such, perpetrators can be proceeded against. In these circumstances, verbal threats or damage to property are to be treated with the same seriousness and dispatch as if the offence had occurred.
“I also implore you to treat threats by telephone or by text messages the same way. Do not neglect responding to a report of domestic violence only to speed to a report of a homicide,” he said.
Even so, Williams said the criticisms currently being levelled against members of the police force regarding its response to cases of domestic violence were not entirely fair as the police were often obstructed by the victims themselves and reminded the public that such accusations were not restricted to the local police force only.
“Within recent times, the police have been the centre of criticism regarding the manner in which we deal with matters of domestic violence, but let me remind you that Barbadian officers are not the only ones that are being criticized.
“One of the criticisms is our not pursuing or wanting to pursue prosecutions based on a history of complaints of victims who, having given statements for prosecution, return to stay or no longer want to proceed with the matter,” he said.
However, Williams said there was currently legislation which would allow the police to possibly circumvent the wishes of the victim should they change their minds about prosecuting the perpetrator.
“There is a provision in the legislation in Barbados where the Commissioner can apply for an order against the perpetrator without the statement of the victim. I am telling you it is possible for you to proceed against, and succeed in having, a protection order made against an individual without a statement of the victim,” he said.
Twenty-one officers graduated from the enhanced constables’ course with 23 graduating from the court prosecutors’ course. The regional lawmen also heard form course coordinator Deputy Commandant Rodney Archer, who urged them to be agents of change, and from Commandant Sylvester Louis, who outlined the roles of the officers going forward. (CA)