|1,358 crimes against children |
Thursday, January 7 2016
A TOTAL of 1,358 reports of crimes committed against children were made to the Child Protection Unit (CPU) of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service since the unit was operationalised last May .
“Of those, 500 were of a sexual nature,” Ag Sgt in the CPU Valarie Hospedales yesterday said at the TTPS weekly press conference at Police Headquarters, Portof- Spain .
There has been no convictions so far, because the reports were being investigated, Acting Assistant Superintendent of Police Michael Pierre said. “We have a lot of matters pending in relation to the offences,” he said .
The reports of “a sexual nature - penetration and touching,” Hospedales said, included rape, buggery and sexual grooming .
Sexual grooming, she said, involves offering the child monetary rewards, gifts, and bribes over a period of time, so they can be enticed into a sexual act .
“Sexual penetration for sexual gratification,” he said, “does not only refer to rape, or buggery, but refers to the penetration of all bodily orifices of the child, including the child’s nose, mouth and ears.” In most cases, she said that the sexual offences were done “by close family members, but sometimes it could be strangers.” She noted that on January 5 last, a 30-yearold man was charged by the Counter-Trafficking unit with 21 offences involving child-human trafficking, child prostitution and 17 counts of sexual penetration, contrary to Section 18 of the Children’s Act .
“The age of consent is now 18 years and over, and not 16 and over as before,” she reminded .
“Sexual touching of a child 16 years and over who can consent to this act, must not be forced,” she said, and “the offender must not be of the same sex age. The act of touching must not be misrepresented, coerced .
The person must not be in a position of trust, or the family member of the child.” Due to migration and the diversity of cultures, she said the Children’s Act makes female genital mutilation illegal .
Generally, she said that for the period 2014 to 2015, the TTPS recorded a 24.6 percent decrease in sexual offences for 2015 and a 12.5 percent decline in reports of sexual indecency against victims .
In TT, the child’s welfare was guaranteed by law under the Children’s Act, Hospedales said. In addition, she noted that on May 18, 2015 children were guaranteed legal protection under other Acts where the reported offences were not catered for under the Children’s Act. The CPU is mandated through the Children’s Authority Act to engage in a collaborative relationship to ensure the care and protection of the nation’s children. While the CPU is responsible for investigating the criminal aspects of such reports perpetrated against children, she noted that the Children’s Authority’s responsibility is to simultaneously engage in psycho-social interventions to assist the child to maintain a sense of stability in his or her life .