A large Child Protection Unit (CPU) is being set up within the Police Service to deal with crimes against children, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said yesterday.
Announcing this at yesterday's weekly post-Cabinet media briefing, Dillon said Government had realised that within recent times there had been an increase in incidents of crime against children.
He said between January 2010 and December 2014, records showed that 1,575 males and 2,407 females were victims of crime. Statistics also showed there were 1,075 and 1,961 sexual offences against male and female victims respectively.
Against that background, Dillon said the acting Police Commissioner had determined that a dedicated, focused entity was needed to treat with crime against children in a concentrated way.
He said the unit would comprise one superintendent of police, two assistant superintendents, ten inspectors, 18 sergeants, 28 corporals, 110 constables, 36 SRPs, one business operations administrator and one other business operations assistant. It will operate across all eight police jurisdictions in Trinidad and the ninth in Tobago.
Persons will be specially selected to handle the work involved and officers would be trained appropriately and qualifications would include a certain type of temperament and education as well as an affinity for children. Apart from a "soft" approach, the unit would be programmed to treat with children and incidents against them, he added.
The unit will work with the school system nationwide, parents, teachers and communities as a whole.Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi also said the Children and Family Court Bill to be debated in Parliament today would provide one suite of service to operationalise law and agencies, such as the Children's Authority, to protect children, deal with management of youth offenders, family matters and other aspects concerning children.
He said there would be special training for police on those matters, including psychometric testing of officers involved.He added there would also be a move away from the Youth Training Centre (YTC) module, where convicted offenders are housed alongside those who are not convicted, to use of half-way homes, community centres and similar facilities.
The announcement came even as reports surfaced yesterday that a 13-year-old student from a secondary school in Central Trinidad had been raped by her 15-year-old classmate.
The incident is said to have occurred on the school compound on Tuesday, when the male student, who had been pressuring his female classmate to have sex with him, forced himself on her. A report was made to the police by the child and by her mother.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia yesterday confirmed the incident and said the matter is being handled by the police.