As the murder toll continues to escalate, manager of the Victim and Witness Support Unit (VWSU) of the TT Police Service Aisha Pryce-Corbie has revealed that the organisation has seen over 750 crime victims, via new referrals, between July and September.
“Within the last quarter, the Victim and Witness Support Unit would have serviced over 750 victims, in three months, 750 crime victims and this is new referrals, not in addition to the other persons that we would have been seeing from previous matters,” she said on Friday.
Pryce-Corbie was delivering opening remarks at a one-day workshop titled Confronting Fear: Managing Life After A Violent Crime at the National Racquet Centre, Tacarigua.
The event, hosted by the VWSU, sought to identify strategies for enabling victims and their relatives to heal after a violent crime.
Saying that many people in society are affected by crime and crime-related trauma, Pryce-Corbie told stakeholders: “Violent crime no longer discriminates. It is faceless.
There is no colour, no age, no gender or social-economic status that excuses someone from being a victim of crime in our society.
“We have young children. We have babies. We have pensioners, male and female, falling prey to violent crime today.”
Pryce-Corbie said crime often affects one’s psychological, interpersonal and occupational functioning, leaving victims with severe difficulty in rebuilding their lives.
“Fear becomes our default, restricting one’s operations.”
Notwithstanding this reality, Pryce-Corbie said the criminal element is not in the majority but noted the onus was on victims and relatives to develop coping mechanisms in the aftermath of violent crime.
Head of the Homicide Bureau of Investigations ACP Anthony James, in his remarks, observed that people can be insensitive to the trauma experienced by victims and members of their families in the wake of a serious crime.
“When a victim of a violent crime, especially murders, the relatives, family members, they endure a very traumatic experience and it is very disheartening when certain persons show lack of empathy and sympathy for what they have endured.”
James said the officers who often visit crime scenes are always reminded to exercise tolerance, patience and sympathy.
“Although sometimes we have been accused of being heartless in the pursuit of our investigations, we have always tried in some way or manner to enable those relatives of victims to truly understand our role and the importance of us conducting our duties in the manner which we do.”
Saying the bureau will lean heavily on the VSWU in the future, James said he learnt Tobago has not been exposed fully to the benefits of the unit.
“It is my intention to approach the executive that they make some sort of accomodation to have a unit placed in Tobago.
“I am hoping that would be done very expeditiously. Tobago has suffered its fair share of murders and violent crimes and clearly one could see that there is need for that level of expertise when treating with the relatives of victims and the trauma they experience.”
James also urged VWSU officers to expand their human resource capacity and knowledge base by including technological and scientific models in rehabilitating victims of violent crime.