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Police defend work of Family Conflict Unit


Police defend work of Family Conflict Unit

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Head of the Family Conflict Unit of the Royal Barbados Police Force, Station Sergeant Christine Husbands has defended the unit over concerns from the National Organisation of Women (NOW), that it was ill-prepared to grapple with the spike in domestic violence cases during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

However, its statistics confirmed there was a spike in cases during the two-month lockdown, with cases for May being the highest in three years for the same period.

Last week, president of NOW Marsha Hinds-Layne said the unit was non-functional during the tense period. She said the office was only manned by three police officers, and its services did not extend past 4 p.m., or was opened on weekends. She also said the experiences of victims were not consistent, pointing to a disparity in training of officers to handle domestic abuse cases.

She took exception to a lack of privacy for victims reporting to the police, pointing out that some had to do so behind a glass barrier in earshot of everyone in the station.

In reply, Husbands told the Sunday Sun that such a categorisation was unfair, as even after the office is closed, the officers remained on call.

“Our office is accessible on a 24-hour basis even though the staff may not be physically in the office. We are in fact open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and these work hours are not restrictive to us when it comes to domestic violence intervention. In many instances, our unit is contacted by NGOs and individuals who request assistance, or they may have concerns about family members or loved ones with regards to safety. Our investigations are conducted at the unit or at the households depending on how we gauge it,” Husbands explained. (CLM)

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