Four months after being established, a total of 197 reports were made to the domestic violence toll-free hotline number – 914. Of that amount, 158 were domestic violence-related cases and as such were referred to the District Probation Offices. The remaining 39 cases were child abuse cases which were referred to the Child Protection Agency.
This was revealed during a media briefing by Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud on Friday.
Dr Persaud explained that the majority of reports came from Region Four with a total of 113, this was followed by Region Three with 36.
Eighteen reports came from Region Six, while Region Two recorded a total of 14 calls, and Regions Five, Seven, Nine, and Ten recorded a total of 16 reports altogether.
There were no reports from Regions One and Eight.
“If we look at how these reports come in, it would allow the officers to intervene in various ways – immediate intervention would require officers to contact the police directly if there is need…. and of course, those who are in situations that does not warrant immediate attention the officers will intervene whether it is counseling or linkage to our support services,” Dr Persaud stated.
She revealed that of the reports made, in eight instances the police had to intervene immediately.
One child made a report directly and the other reports were made by adults outside of the situation.
“This is a good thing because it means people are being vigilant and taking the issue of child abuse very seriously and we would like to encourage that and support this movement where people are becoming more aware of all the cases of abuse and violence as they exist in the country,” Dr Persaud added.
The 914 hotline was launched last December as a result of the significant decline in the reporting of violence and child abuse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are now 17 trained officers working 24 hours at the hotline studio. Dr Persaud noted that the Ministry is also seeking persons who speak Spanish and Portuguese as migrants are also victims of various forms of abuse.
But there is a challenge with prank calls. Some 208 calls were established to be prank calls and Dr Persaud is asking that persons desist from this habit.
Additionally, a gender-based referral app is being introduced. The app called the Gender Based Guidance Service app allows persons to be linked directly to all of the Ministry’s services. Persons can also report abuse and violence on the app.
The app which was developed to the tune of US$11,000 is in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The app is currently only available to Samsung and android users but efforts are being made for it to be available on iPhones.
Dr Persaud, further called on persons to report the abuse of the elderly using the 914 hotline.