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PCA takes action
Serious allegations of domestic violence (DV) by police officers against their spouses and close relatives are now engaging the attention of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
Some of the allegations received over the three-year period 2012 to 2015 include: threats to beat, kill, shoot, throw acid, kidnap children; Assaults including slaps to face, kicks to stomach and vagina; Beatings which include a beating with a stone to the head, putting a gun to the head, and slamming against a wall. |
PCA’s head David West told the Sunday Guardian that every allegation of DV “is treated as serious since traditionally and statistically DV allegations escalate from threats to death.”
He disclosed that from 2012-2015, the PCA completed at least seven investigations and is currently investigating three DV complaints, cases that he could not comment on.
After investigations, some matters were sent to the DPP to determine if charges should be laid, while some others were sent to the Commissioner of Police (CoP) for disciplinary action. Other reports were made to the PCA between 2015 to present.
When a report is made against a police officer by their respective spouses/relatives to the police station, the PCA would also inquire into the conduct of the police, “whether they conduct proper investigations or whether they have committed the disciplinary offence of neglect of duty.”
West said that once a complaint of DV is received, the CoP, in this case acting CoP Stephen Williams, is immediately notified, “so that he can trigger the T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) internal protocol in this area.
“Once we receive a complaint that pertains to an unlawful entry by a police officer in a DV related matter we also investigate and report to the CoP and the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
Since this year started, the PCA has set up a team to work on the PCA’s own policy and manual for DV cases.
This involves not only a review of the Police Standing Orders and the local Domestic Violence Investigative and Procedural Manual for Police Officers but the international and regional policies in this area.
The PCA intends to launch its stakeholder meetings programme in August 2018 where all will be invited to take part in public consultations.
“In so doing, we can have the input of all interested parties before we make our recommendations and give advice,” West said.
In one recent case of a DV against a police officer who was assigned to the Central Division, senior officers were made aware of this and one of the officers was called to a meeting.
During that meeting, the officer was warned of a concern over his behaviour and told he should lodge his firearm at the Central Division Station.
But one month later, the officer retrieved his firearm, although his superiors again warned him about his behaviour.
Late last year, the PCA launched its mobile app where people can directly lodge reports against police officers and also upload photos, videos, and documents.
DV victims can also make use of the app, instead of physically venturing to the PCA’s head office at the International Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
PCA MOBILE APP REPORTS
From October 1, 2017, to last Wednesday’s date:
• 167 mobile reports were submitted
• Of the 167 mobile reports, 113 were non-actionable
• Of these 113 reports, 54 were classed as reports for review
• Of these 54 reports, 23 were assessed as complaints/within the PCA’s remit
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INVESTIGATIVE AND PROCEDURAL MANUAL
In 2003, it was announced that police officers investigating reports of domestic violence would be guided in their investigations with the use of a Domestic Violence Investigative and Procedural Manual.
The Working Committee, which was mandated back then to prepare the manual, had as its term of reference the formulation of the protocols on the methods of primary response to reports or complaints of domestic violence; protocols on the treatment of and interaction with victims of domestic violence; witnesses to domestic violence, minors in a home where there has been domestic violence, and suspects of domestic violence; clear statements and explanations of the current law as it relates to domestic violence, inclusive of existing legislation, police standing orders and staff orders, and decided case law; and a listing of domestic violence support agencies within T&T.
The objective of the manual is to assist law enforcement professionals in their primary response to and prosecution of domestic violence as a crime in T&T.
It is also geared towards ensuring that victims of domestic violence are treated with dignity and respect and adequately assisted throughout the ordeal.
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