Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob says the police alone cannot deal with the issue of minors who run away from their homes. In fact, he says other agencies also have critical roles to play in rectifying some of the issues they encounter after recovering children from certain situations.
His comment came yesterday, a day after the T&T Police Service’s Anti Kidnapping Unit revealed they had received reports of 154 missing minors since the year began.
Addressing this after a meeting with Sangre Grande Regional Corporation officials yesterday, Jacob noted that many of the missing minors ran away from their homes several times.
“We will see that some persons may run away three times per year, four times a year,” Jacob said.
“They actually carry up the numbers, which might appear to some that there is something significant happening in Trinidad. Some people may ascribe it to human trafficking. But when the analysis is done, you realise that sometimes it’s the same set of young persons who are constantly running away.”
Jacob pointed out that the TTPS records each missing person report individually, so even if one person runs away multiple times, each report is counted as a new one.
However, he thanked the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch for doing the actual collection and coalition of that type of information.
He noted that this helped them to assess the severity of the problems which were affecting minors in their homes, which often came out when officers interviewed them after they were returned to their families safely.
Still, he admitted some of the issues were beyond what they could offer.
“In our interviews where they return, if we identify offences, we normally will do what is required, if it’s to take them out of the home and if we have to charge persons. However, there are some problems existing in the home, which does not necessarily amount to criminal offences that require a different sort of social work. So that is reason why we are engaging the other agencies to assist us to deal with this problem,” Jacob said.
Speaking at the TTPS press briefing on Thursday, Asst Supt Darryl Ramdass said 142 of the minors reported missing had been returned to their homes, while ten persons, or ten per cent, are still unaccounted for.
He said some of the issues given by the children who run away included parents disciplining them, sexual grooming by adult and family issues.
Yesterday, Jacob said they were leaning more on other state agencies as well, including social services, admitting the issue could overwhelm the TTPS resources.
“The Police Service, we have our Victim Support officers and our social workers within the Police Service, but it is really too much for them. So now, we are linking with the other agencies so they can go in and do some work with the families because why would a child be constantly running away from home?” Jacob asked.