Inadequate police response affecting provision of support services – Dr. Persaud

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When a woman experiences violence, one of the first avenues of recourse – if not the first – is engaging the Guyana Police Force (GPF). But inadequacies in the response of some police officers continue to plague the provision of support services.

“I think this is perhaps the biggest challenge that we are facing in our response and it is not a challenge that this ministry can tackle alone,” Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud told the News Room on Thursday.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every three women will experience either physical and/or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. In Guyana, this is 1 in every 2 women.

Domestic violence may result in instability in families, disruption of lives, psychological and physical scars, and even death. Because of these stark facts, stakeholders agree that the provision of support services is crucial.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud

During an interview with the News Room, the minister detailed the number of programmes instituted to help provide a greater level of support to people who experience violence. These include the 914 hotline, financial empowerment programmes and of course, police interventions.

But, Dr. Persaud acknowledges that when people visit police stations to lodge reports, there are certain “shortcomings”.

“People go to make reports and they are dismissed… many times there is no reaction,” Dr. Persaud lamented.

And it is because of this known challenge, the minister explained that the COPSQUAD2000 initiative was launched. Through this initiative, at least one officer at every police station across the country will receive specialised training on how to address issues of domestic violence. It is also expected that they will be knowledgeable of the laws that exist to protect people, such as women and children, from violence.

Through this initiative, some 200 officers at various levels and in various regions have already received training. The aim is to train about 50 per cent of the police force by next year.

Through this, officers are expected to learn skills in interrogation, assessment of safety, counselling and responding to people who come to make complaints and writing case reports. The ministry, with its own set of trainers to complement the initiative, will be working with the police force to train trainers so that there will be continuity of the initiative.

Once they complete their training, officers will receive a badge that will make them easily identifiable to those who come to make reports.

Training is not enough, though. Dr. Persaud emphasised that there must be continuous monitoring and evaluation to keep police officers accountable.

“… When someone from the public goes into making a report, can identify them by the badge (and) when they go in and don’t have the response, we can have reports of that,” she explained.

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