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Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith says if relatives of Reshma Kanchan, who was brutally murdered by an ex-partner on Tuesday, can provide receipts of domestic violence reports made to police, he will discipline any officer who failed to act.
Griffith made the comment in response to claims by Kanchan’s mother Davica that officers from the Penal Police Station had failed to respond to numerous reports of domestic abuse against Kanchan before the attack.
Griffith said there were no reports lodged with Penal police, no request for a protection order and no requests for police presence for breaches of the peace. Rather, he said he found out that on September 16, both Kanchan and her ex-lover went to the station and reported threats made by each other.
“The police spoke to both parties and advised them to seek counselling from the Victim and Witness Support Unit at the Penal Police Station and they both agreed. No police action was requested for breaches of the peace or a protection order,” Griffith said.
On Tuesday, Davica said on several occasions Kanchan’s ex-lover turned up at their Laltoo Trace Extension home and assaulted her daughter in front the family. She said despite calls to the police, officers did not respond.
“He kept threatening her and up to last week we called the police for him. He came in my gap and real slapped her up. Sunday morning, he came again and he threatened her and me. We called the police; no police ever came. Penal police do not do anything when you call them,” Davica said.
However, Davica said Siparia police recently warned the man to stay away from Kanchan, who went to collect maintenance money for her elder child. The warning came after the man and a relative saw her near the police station and began calling out to her.
Shortly before 9 am on Tuesday, Kanchan, 25, left her daughters Shivani, five and Carissa, two, to head to work at a school in Debe. As she walked along the road, the man ambushed her and chopped her about the face, hand and neck with a cutlass.
Police said the suspect, an electrician from Siparia, attempted to slit his throat and crashed his car nearby. A villager took him out the car and an ambulance eventually carried him to the San Fernando General Hospital. He remained there under police guard up to yesterday evening.
Yesterday, Griffith noted that in many domestic violence murders, relatives, colleagues and friends complain about police inaction.
While this might have been an issue in the past, he said this was why he created the Gender-Based Violence Unit (GBVU). He said once someone reports domestic violence to the police, it is immediately sent to the GBVU where specially-trained officers are mandated to visit the victim and aggressor, take statements, make arrests, press charges and advise counselling.
He said while the T&TPS has an aggressive stance against domestic violence, there are factors that restrict them from protecting the victims.
He recalled that the Kanchan family recently had a matter against her ex-lover that was supposed to go before the court but they discontinued it.
Griffith again asked that when people present to public and private hospitals and medical centres with signs of domestic violence, medical practitioners contact the police so they can take action.
Acknowledging the brutality of Kanchan’s death, in which her head was almost severed, Griffith said killings like these are not mere cases of domestic abuse but someone with psychological issues. He said people around need to know and look out for the signs of mental issues which may cause someone to inflict serious injuries on others if it gets out of hand.
South Western Division Supt Anand Ramesar told Guardian Media yesterday that he was aware of Davica’s complaints and they were looking into it.
Extended condolences to Kanchan’s family, Ramesar said, “Having heard the complaints raised by the relatives of the deceased, I initiated an inquiry to determine the history of that particular situation to determine what reports she or the family made and the actions the police took.
“At this stage, I am aware that there were reports in the past and we will do an evaluation of how the police treated with the matter; whether they acted appropriately and if they did not act appropriately, we will take the necessary and appropriate action.”