Trinidad: Sexual predators, bandits terrorize female primary school guards

The entrance to one of the primary school in the Maracas/St Joseph area.

(Trinidad Guardian) Sex­u­al preda­tors, ban­dits, and tres­passers are cre­at­ing fear among fe­male se­cu­ri­ty guards of the Na­tion­al Main­te­nance Train­ing and Se­cu­ri­ty Com­pa­ny (MTS). The se­cu­ri­ty guards af­fect­ed are those dis­patched to five pri­ma­ry schools in the Mara­cas/St Joseph area and work 12-hour shifts—from 6 am to 6 pm and 6 pm to 6 am.

Re­cent­ly, there was an at­tempt­ed rape where the sus­pect on­ly man­aged to take off the woman’s un­der­gar­ment but she fought off the preda­tor and es­caped. While there have been claims that a guard was raped by an in­trud­er be­hind one of the pri­ma­ry schools in No­vem­ber last year, po­lice could not con­firm this. Of­fi­cers at the Mara­cas/St Joseph Po­lice Sta­tion con­firmed, how­ev­er, that they have re­ceived “dis­tur­bance” re­ports from “one or two” of the se­cu­ri­ty guards but could not di­vulge fur­ther de­tails. The of­fi­cer as­sured that they are ready to re­spond to any calls for help.

A se­cu­ri­ty guard, who did not want to be named, told Guardian Me­dia the at­tacks oc­cur most­ly at nights.

The woman said she was so scared that most times when she is work­ing the night shift a rel­a­tive or friend is present with her through­out as “added se­cu­ri­ty”.

An­oth­er se­cu­ri­ty guard said even the se­cu­ri­ty guard booths are not prop­er­ly re­in­forced, “One booth, in par­tic­u­lar, there is lou­vre glass with no bur­glar proof­ing all around and it is easy for any­one to come and pry the door open, so we need the have the booths se­cured with prop­er walls, doorsm and locks.

“We are on­ly equipped with ba­tons and what can ba­tons do in a time like this where gang vi­o­lence is ram­pant. It’s most­ly women work­ing and it’s one guard on each shift be­cause it’s the pri­ma­ry schools and usu­al­ly on­ly one guard is dis­patched. At the sec­ondary schools there are usu­al­ly a few.”

The guard al­so not­ed that there is a low perime­ter wall at one of the schools which al­low in­trud­ers to gain ac­cess to the school com­pound eas­i­ly.

Re­cent­ly, there was an armed rob­bery at a busi­ness place in close prox­im­i­ty to one of the pri­ma­ry schools. Some­one was al­so shot in the in­ci­dent.

“With all this hap­pen­ing and peo­ple climb­ing over the fence of the schools, the guards don’t feel safe on the com­pounds be­cause the booths are not se­cured enough,” one guard said.

A low perimeter fence around the compound of one of the primary schools in the Marcas/St Joseph area.

“Some­times dur­ing the nights there are tres­passers on the school com­pound too and the guards just need to be and feel safe. As it is now, maybe they are wait­ing for some­thing ter­ri­ble to hap­pen be­fore they in­ter­vene and have the booth prop­er­ly se­cured for the women.”

MTS re­sponds

MTS’ cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ag­er Adri­an Ray­mond, con­tact­ed last week, said MTS recog­nis­es the risks that are as­so­ci­at­ed with se­cu­ri­ty as­sign­ments and rov­ing su­per­vi­sors have been as­signed to var­i­ous catch­ment ar­eas or com­mu­ni­ties.

“They check in on of­fi­cers at the var­i­ous lo­ca­tions dur­ing all shifts in­clud­ing those overnight. There are cer­tain hours and cer­tain lo­ca­tions that are vis­it­ed more fre­quent­ly based on a num­ber of fac­tors. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, there ex­ist a num­ber of pro­to­cols to al­low an of­fi­cer to get more im­me­di­ate sup­port de­pend­ing on any sit­u­a­tion that may oc­cur and for se­cu­ri­ty pur­pos­es, we ob­vi­ous­ly can­not di­vulge the de­tails of these pro­to­cols,” Ray­mond said.

“MTS is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing a safe and se­cure en­vi­ron­ment in all the com­mu­ni­ties we serve and for all our stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing our se­cu­ri­ty of­fi­cers. As an equal op­por­tu­ni­ty em­ploy­er, a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of our se­cu­ri­ty force is fe­male and they like our male of­fi­cers are of­fered a wide va­ri­ety of as­sign­ments and projects and are ac­tive­ly giv­en con­sid­er­a­tion for pro­mo­tion to any post in the se­cu­ri­ty di­vi­sion.”

How­ev­er, with re­spect to the is­sues at Mara­cas/St Joseph, Ray­mond said the com­pa­ny has no re­port of any fe­male of­fi­cer be­ing raped at any school in the area.

He said that there have not been any un­usu­al amounts of re­quests for shift or lo­ca­tion re­as­sign­ments in the said area nor has there been any re­quest spe­cif­ic that falls out­side the reg­u­lar pa­ra­me­ters of con­cern.

“The con­tin­gent of of­fi­cers at any lo­ca­tion is bound by the con­trac­tu­al arrange­ments with the spe­cif­ic client. The com­pa­ny ad­dress­es the is­sue of re­quest­ed lo­ca­tion and shift as­sign­ments on a case-by-case ba­sis, based on the par­tic­u­lars of the sit­u­a­tion. Any and all re­quests are re­viewed and giv­en due con­sid­er­a­tion,” Ray­mond said.

With re­spect to the re­in­force­ment of the re­spec­tive se­cu­ri­ty booths, Ray­mond said, “That mat­ter has and con­tin­ues to be ad­dressed with all of our clients.”

An of­fi­cial at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, who wished not to be iden­ti­fied said sys­tems are in place to en­sure there are safe­ty mea­sures im­ple­ment­ed on all school com­pounds.

The of­fi­cial added if there are any breach­es or se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns it is the du­ty of school prin­ci­pals to in­form the min­istry so that the is­sues can be ad­dressed.

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