Despite horror stories over the treatment meted out to rape victims by police officers, head of the Gender-Based Violence Unit (GBVU) Supt Clair Guy-Alleyne is encouraging survivors to go to the police.
Following the nationwide candlelight vigils calling for an end to violence against women in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt, several rape victims have spoken out about being ridiculed and dismissed when they went to the various police stations to make a report.
Interviewed on CNC 3’s Morning Brew programme yesterday, Guy-Alleyne said people are supposed to treat with dignity and pride when they report incidents of rape and other heinous crimes.
She said, “I don’t have the information about the bad behaviour of police officers with respect to those crimes but what I can tell you is that in the Police Service we are not a perfect organisation. Police officers come from the wider society and we would expect that after six or seven or eight months of training we are going to change behaviours, change the narratives from some of these officers, but sometimes it does not happen.”
However, she said the victims must make a report in order for the police to investigate and arrest the perpetrators.
“When it comes to rape, rape is a crime and the perpetrators must be held accountable and that is the only way we could eradicate rape from T&T,” she said.
While there are officers in the Child Protection Unit and Criminal Investigation Department trained to deal with rape victims, she said some victims prefer to speak with a police officer of their same sex.
She explained, however, that a victim could request either a male or female officer to take their report and request to be interviewed in a private area.
She cautioned, “Be prepared to relate that heinous experience again. You will have to relate it to the officer and in the courts.“
However, she said the TTPS will soon establish a Special Victims Department to handle reports of rape and other heinous crimes.
“More police officers will be added to my unit as it is to increase the strength and be able to increase the capacity for investigators to investigate these heinous crimes. Some people may be wanting to know why form another unit, but it’s because of the complaints you spoke about earlier we want to create an avenue where victims are comfortable to come forward and make reports. So the formation of these small units, re-training the minds of these officers, that is the reason why units are formed within the organisation,” she said.
However, Guy-Alleyne encouraged victims to come forward, regardless of the date of the sexual assault, as those crimes do not carry a statutory limitation.
She said the police service also provides psycho-social support to victims throughout its Victim Support Unit.