Deputy Police Commissioner Mervyn Richardson said yesterday there has been no major increase in sexual offences.
Rather, he said, young girls are running away to be with their boyfriends and if they should engage in sex it will constitute statutory rape.
He also suggested a higher percentage of incidents of sexual offences was being reported. Richardson made the statement at the first police press briefing for the year, held at the Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain.
Asked about recently-released statistics which indicated a marked increase in sexual offences, he said: “I want to caution that there is no massive increase. “What probably they are seeing is more confidence being reposed in the Police Service...Now, with the increase in confidence in the police, people feel more comfortable to report.
“The capacity to give consent to indulge in that type of behaviour, when they do, and sometimes when they do the parent comes and reports to us, ‘Look, my daughter is having an affair with x and y,’ and so we take the matter. “But if you look at the statistics with a dispassionate view, you will not see a phenomenal rise in sexual crimes. Yes, there has been an increase in sexual crimes reported and at the lower age group. I am saying, to allay the fears that there are rapists abounding in T&T, we are dealing with the matter. But in a number of instances they are boyfriend and girlfriend.”
Told that the figures showed an increase of 311 reported sexual offences and asked what measures the police were taking to address the matter, Richardson said they were going to deal with rape and other sexual offences in a robust way.
“We love them [women] so we want to protect them. We cannot abdicate our responsibility as fathers, aunts etc,” he said.
Richardson said it took a village to raise a child. He said the service would be very robust in prosecuting members of the public who committed statutory rape, while also saying there was no massive incidents of rape occurring.
Asked what advice he would give to parents, he said he would advise them to instill values in their children. He called on NGOs and other institutions to assist in the process and said there was a need for society to treat with statutory rape.
Richardson also promised to have disaggregated statistics by the end of 2013 and said the statistics provided by the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch were reliable data.