Problem is lack of accountability by Police Force when dealing with domestic violence

Dear Editor,

The SN article in Thursday’s edition `Ministry seeking consultant to train police on handling domestic violence’ referred to the training which the Guyana Police Force has already received over the years to deal with domestic violence. The article is about the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme’s call for consultants. Since the late 1990s, the Canadian – Caribbean Gender Equity Fund  started providing exchanges and opportunities for the Guyana Police Force to respond to domestic violence. NGOs like Red Thread and Help & Shelter were involved in providing resources. Regional NGO CAFRA was involved in project with the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police to provide training and to institutionalize the training for police and other frontline workers.  Modules were developed for the police training, covering the items which were in the Terms of Reference. Some of the manuals are still available. The domestic violence training was embedded in the training at the police training schools. However, things changed as perhaps the leadership had different priorities. Some police like the late Derrick Josiah voluntarily took their knowledge about domestic violence into community settings.  The problem is not so much the lack of training and awareness, as  the lack of accountability on the part of the Guyana Police Force when dealing with domestic violence. It is easier to fund, organise and implement training sessions. It is more difficult to implement policies and procedures. It is more difficult to ensure that the police are consistently applying what they have learned, and are examining the other attitudes which have to change to successfully intervene in domestic violence. Dr Janice Jackson addressed the 24th Conference of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police  in March 2009. Her presentation   was titled “Policing Domestic Violence: Context, Status and Prospects”. It is available at http://www.hands.org.gy/node/118 . The presentation proposed several elements in addition to training which the police should implement.  These elements include the articulation of policies and procedures, the involvement of the police in public education and awareness, treatment for survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence within the police force and continuous monitoring and evaluation of the police performance. 

Some of these elements do not require donor funds but rather require political will and a serious commitment to transforming the personal attitudes of individuals – especially at the senior level of the police.

The Government and the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme might have other initiatives to ensure that this one-off training is accompanied by some of the other activities needed to ensure that the police are consistently meeting the needs of survivors of domestic violence.

Yours faithfully,

Vidyaratha Kissoon

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