–as Ministry of Human Services launches ‘COPSQUAD2000’
AT least one officer at every police station across the country will receive specialised training on how to address issues of domestic violence through the “COPSQUAD2000” initiative, which was launched by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security on Tuesday.
A brainchild of subject minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, the initiative kicked off at the Police Officers Training Centre in Kingston in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Guyana Police Force. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is also playing an integral role in the training.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, with cases of domestic violence said to be rising in Guyana, Minister Persaud wants 2,000 officers to be trained before the end of this year.
She also called for a conscientious effort to be made for each reported case to be treated with the level of seriousness and urgency that it requires.
This, she noted, is in keeping with the ill effects that domestic violence brings with it, including instability in families, disruption of lives, psychological and physical scars, and even death. This new initiative seeks to ensure that once a domestic violence matter is brought to a police station, it will be handled in a manner that accords with international best practices. “We must not be happy with any level of mediocrity; we must not accept any level of doing lesser than we should,” Minister Persaud charged the senior and junior officers in attendance who hail from hinterland and coastal areas. Once they complete their training, the participants will receive a badge that will make them easily identifiable to those who come to make reports. Following the training, Minister Persaud said that the officers will be held accountable for the cases going to them.
An intense training being conducted both in person and online, will be done in batches of 30 for a maximum of eight days for the junior officers and five days for the senior ones. The training will deal with interrogation, assessment of safety, how to counsel and respond to people who come to make complaints, and how to write case reports. The ministry, with its own set of trainers to supplement the initiative, will be working with the police force to train trainers so that there will be continuity of the initiative. Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, acknowledged that the issue of domestic violence is a troubling one locally and that the behaviour in this regard is shocking. “We have to do better as men and take our responsibilities seriously,” he urged, adding: “In many ways we’re too open, too permissive in the way we deal with these issues; the music we play, our behaviour as adults.” He called on the police to be proactive and vigilant when such reports are made at the station and not simply send the victim back home “to get more licks.”
Minister Benn posited that the reasons the cases are rising have to do with a failure in policing, failure in society and the fundamental failure of the country’s men.
Commissioner of Police (ag), Nigel Hoppie, noted that domestic violence has been placed under the microscope by the ministry, which recently launched its 914 domestic violence emergency hotline, among other ‘laudable’ initiatives. According to him, statistics for January to June this year reveal that in 2020, there were 733 reports of domestic violence compared to the 896 in 2021. For this reason, he implored the officers to make good use of the training and to share it with junior officers so that they can become well-rounded and effective in carrying out their duties.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Human Services, Shannielle Hoosein-Outar, encouraged the officers never to underestimate the impact that they can have on saving someone’s life and urged them to take the training seriously. Director of Social Services, Whentworth Tanner, related that the training represents the strengthening of the national response against all forms of violence against women and girls.
“Perpetrators must be held accountable and victims must be protected. A crime that goes unpunished only serves to embolden perpetrators and leads to more criminal acts,” he said.