Senator slammed by CoP explains: 'Griffith didn't listen properly'

Independent Senator Paul Richards.  -
Independent Senator Paul Richards. -

After Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith took Senator Paul Richards to task for comments on the under-reporting of gender-based violence, Richards has said the commissioner must not have been listening to him properly.

Richards said contrary to the commissioner’s assertions, he at no time identified the police in their current state as complicit in the phenomenon of not following up on reports of gender-based violence. In fact, he praised the police for their new approach.

At the weekly press briefing at the police administration building in Port of Spain on Wednesday, Griffith criticised Richards for saying “reports of gender-based violence have garnered nationwide focus and given rise to several accounts of similar experiences by women whose cases have not been followed up and solved by police...”

Griffith described this as “a very unfortunate statement by someone who did absolutely no research to make such an atrocious comment.

“Senator Richards, as would many, would always go back to what was going wrong several years ago to try and up the matter of concern and put more emotion into it. But what he would have done, unfortunately, is he would have misinformed the public without doing any research.”

Griffith added that the senator's statements could have a negative psychological effect on women who intended to go to the police to make a report.

“We have data to show Senator Richards is again going back a few years ago, where there have been problems.

“Since the launch of the GBVU (Gender Based Violence Unit) there have been hundreds of women who have come forward and their cases dealt with in a professional manner, and they can all state in contrast to what the senator said. It is totally false and misleading.”

But Richards explained to Newsday that during his Senate contribution he was referring to statistics taken from 2000-2019.

He also said the statement on under-reporting of gender-based violence incidents was based on reports that looked at the issue globally, not locally.

Richards said a report called Global Study on Homicide 2018 – Gender-related Killings in Women and Girls, from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, highlighted the phenomenon and made the findings which he repeated in the Senate. He also cited information from a global organisation dealing with gender-based violence and child abuse.

He even commended the commissioner for the launch of the GBVU.

“But I guess people hear what they want to hear,” he said.

Richards said in the Senate on Tuesday while reports of killings tend to be recorded by police more effectively than other crimes, violence against women is widely under-reported and a large share of it remains hidden from the police.

He said one of the reasons it is under-reported is because in many cases jurisdictions do not have the legal framework to deal with it, or law enforcement agencies in some instances are not trained well enough.

But then he continued, “In developing countries in particular, recent research has found that the most frequently mentioned reasons for not reporting violence include embarrassment, because the system doesn’t cater in a sensitive manner. I commend the TTPS for the implementation of the GBVU, which trained officers specifically to deal with issues of gender-based violence in a sensitive and professional manner. That is a commendable step forward.”

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