(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.
“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’ 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.