Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith.

Orders are awaiting domestic violence perpetrators.

Following a recent spike in domestic violence cases, police are ready to give domestic violence perpetrators “Stay Home” orders in an “uncomfortable” place.

“So don’t wait until too late to call police—come forward,” Police Commissioner Gary Griffith yesterday urged domestic violence victims.

He confirmed the increase in domestic violence cases while speaking at yesterday’s media briefing on the COVID-19 situation

He said members of the public have been dealing with various increased isolation/social distancing measures to prevent virus spread as Government’s “Stay Home” mandate was extended to month-end. Medical experts have acknowledged physical, mental and emotional pressures which some may suffer resulting from restrictions.

However, Griffith said police had noticed a spike in domestic cases for February and March compared to last year’s figures. He said data’s shown an escalation of assaults. In February 2019, there were 39 and this February 73. The figure in March 2019 was 42 and it’s 96 for last month. The overall figure for reports for 2019 was 232 – but it’s already 558 this year.

Griffith said the situation could be because more victims are submitting reports to the police’s Gender-based Violence Unit. He also noted that overseas, there’s been increases in domestic violence where “Stay Home” orders are in force.

But Griffith said the situation isn’t business as usual with the problem in T&T. Especially due to the “Stay Home” mandate, he warned perpetrators, “You can’t do what you want in your home and expect nothing will happen – you may end up with Stay Home orders. But it may not be in your home, it may be in an uncomfortable place.”

He urged victims to contact police if such activity is going on.

“If a perpetrator is committing a crime, we can move him and he’ll have to ‘stay home’ in more uncomfortable place. So come forward,” he said.

On Government’s recent failed bid to hire four private security companies to patrol certain areas, Griffith said he’d been informed of the plan but police hadn’t “reignited” it. The same plan was used by the last government in 2014.

He said the plan was brought to the police’s attention last Saturday and there was a meeting on it on Monday.

“I gave some recommendations to improve it and make it effective, as I knew how it worked a few years ago. But unfortunately, the policy was dropped. I had my views but unfortunately it went in a different direction,” he said.

“It wasn’t policy recommended by police but we’d have welcomed it because this is a very large country and trying to lock it down in a situation like this is very difficult. For instance, in Dundonald Hill a few days ago, we spent hours going through patrols.”

He said there was no difference of opinion with Government on the plan or other issues.

Griffith also said the Finance Ministry has provided requested assistance for police to get tools —masks etc—for the COVID-19 response.

He added, “What we need more than anything else is public support. There are 8,000 officers and we may drop the ball now and then but people shouldn’t demonise officers. Help us to help you, give us information.”

Apologising for situations where police “drop the ball”, he said the COVID situation is very fluid and where citizens had concerns they should contact police hotlines.

Griffith said the authorities are close to completing the probe on the recent incident where officers on a joint patrol, two officers and two soldiers, abused a homeless person, forcing the man to drink alcohol and do sprints.

Meanwhile, Government will hold a virtual town meeting – via electronic media- at 10 am tomorrow, including with doctors, to answer public queries on the COVID issue.