The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on Friday described as “unacceptable” the response given to a woman who called a domestic violence hotline for help and was told by an operator to call back later. In a statement, the OPM promised that better will be done to serve the public.
The Port of Spain woman, after calling 800-SAVE on Wednesday, called Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and complained. Griffith called the hotline himself and was told by one of the coordinators, he "needed to understand" the procedure.
The release from the OPM’s department of Gender and Child Affairs, described the response from the operator as "poor and way below established customer service standards.
"Such responses, as described in the media, fall outside of the well-established performance and behavioural standards and expectations set for the active listeners employed on the telephone hotline. The importance and value of the hotline services to saving the lives of victims are well recognised. The public is advised that action is being undertaken to remedy this situation and prevent this and similar incidences from reoccurring in the future.”
The OPM said the incident is unfortunate and regrettable and will not be accepted by the government and its agent – the NGO.
“There were a few changes in staff in January 2020 and the Domestic Violence Unit will continue its regular training with new and existing staff to ensure that they meet the standards of an emergency hotline."
The release also stated that three active listeners were on shift at the hotline at any given time, and standby listeners are also utilised in case of absences.
The hotline is contracted by the Office of the Prime Minister with oversight, contract management, training, guidance and monitoring from the Domestic Violence Unit of the Gender Affairs Division.