[UPDATED] Top cop notes rise in domestic violence cases

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith -
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith -

There has been a spike in the number of domestic violence cases reported to the police, as a result of the stay-at-home measures to limit the spread of covid19, Commissioner of Police Gary Grifith has said.

In his first appearance at the Health Ministry's daily 10 am virtual press conference, Griffith said on Thursday that statistics gathered by the police confirmed that orders to stay at home have proven detrimental to members of some households.

However, he said the spike in domestic violence reports is not peculiar to TT, but is being noted around the world, since most if not all countries have instituted some form of stay-at-home rule to combat or at least limit the spread of the virus.

As of Thursday, the virus had infected 1.58 million people and killed 94,700 worldwide.

The CoP provided statistics to show the rise in local reports, in particular, cases of assault by beating, since stay-at-home measures were instituted roughly a month ago. He said for February 2019, 39 such cases were reported, but in February this year, 72 cases were reported.

In March 2019, Griffith said, 42 cases of domestic violence were reported but for March this year, there were 96. For the first four months of 2019, there were 232 reports of domestic violence, but for the corresponding period this year, a whopping 558 cases have been reported to the police.

He said the stay-at-home measures do not mean "it is business as usual" and warned perpetrators, “You’ll continue to have a stay-at-home order – but not at your home.”

He said the alternative stay-at-home location is not as comfortable as the one where the domestic violence was perpetrated. He urged victims to seek help via various police hotlines such as 555.

Griffith said the rise in the number of reported cases could be because victims had confidence in the police's new Gender Based Violence Unit.

According to a report from the Associated Press, observers are already seeing a pattern of increasing domestic violence around the world, correlating with the timing of social distancing lockdowns.

Early reports from China show at least a tripling of domestic violence. Cities across Europe and the UK are also reporting surges in domestic violence calls.

The United States is seeing a similar pattern. For example, in Seattle, one of the first US cities to have a major outbreak, the police saw a 21 per cent increase in domestic violence reports in March. In Texas, during March, the Montgomery County District Attorney saw a 35 per cent increase in domestic violence cases.

Police around the US are adapting their domestic violence response plans to prepare for the expected increases and to ensure victims can get help even with restrictions on public movement.

According to the Texas Public Radio (TPR) website, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said there had been an 18 per cent spike in domestic violence calls for service to police in the last week, in part because more families are at home during the outbreak. During a covid19 briefing on Wednesday, the TPR website said, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said there have been 50 requests for family violence protective orders in the last week alone.

This story was originally published with the title "CoP: Spike in domestic violence during lockdown" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

There has been a significant rise in the number of domestic violence cases being reported to the police as more people are being confined to their homes during the covid19 pandemic, according to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith.

He said there was a similar trend in counties around the world and warned offenders that they would be arrested and charged.

A comparison of the statistics for the month of March 2019 which recorded 46 cases, last month saw 96 cases, Griffith said.

Likewise the number of cases for this year so far has been 558, a big rise on the 232 cases for the corresponding period last year.

Griffith said it could be that more people were reporting cases to the Gender-based Violence Unit, a new division to tackle domestic violence crimes.

He urged victims not to wait until the situation became dangerous and seek help by calling the police hotlines such as 555, 999 or 482-GARY.

Griffith warned potential offenders that it is not business as usual, saying, “You’ll continue to have a stay at home order, but not at your home.”

He also warned people who intend to host covid19 private parties at their homes. “This is a ticking time bomb,” he warned, saying such events had proven to be a disaster elsewhere, with some people dying after such parties in New York.

Griffith said fake news shared on social media put additional strain on the resources of law enforcement agencies as the denounced reports that there had been looting on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain.

“There is no looting that is taking place.”

On the issue of the number of people allowed to shop at supermarkets at any given time. Griffith said it was not limited to five customers but supermarket operators have a responsibility to those individuals both inside and outside their premises.

Griffith said among the 8,614 officers including SRPs he has shifted many officers from administrative units to operational roles. Among their roles, the police monitor lists of people served quarantine orders by Ministry of Health, he said.


"[UPDATED] Top cop notes rise in domestic violence cases"

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