9 Nov 2015

The myopia of the police dunceys

I observed with great alarm the police inaction in the case of a woman beaten in a bar, kicked until she was sent skating across the floor like a busted football.

The police are saying that they cannot charge the perpetrator under the Domestic Violence Act if the victim is not making a complaint. That may be true under the Domestic Violence Act, and indeed I looked at the Offences Against the Person Act which is also useless… The OAPA is primarily designed to protect persons holding government offices, such as judges et al.

However, I looked at the Summary Offences Act, and it clearly states that “a complaint can be laid by or on behalf of the person aggrieved”… In other words, a complaint can be made by the police officer or other any other person, if the victim is not willing.

I admit, the penalties under the Summary Offences Act (which dates back from 1921, and is entirely reflected in the out-of-date language, offences and penalties within the Act) are so minor as to not make it even a disturbance in the life of the offender. Fines of TT$100 or 30 days imprisonment do not a lesson make.

I have been advocating for modernised laws for years. It is time to scrap the old laws we ‘inherited’ from the British pre-Independence, and work on our own laws and with modern penalties at that.

Failure to do so has resulted in the crime situation we see today, and worse… will continue to see criminals thumbing their noses at authority and society.

More importantly, there is a lesson the police need to learn. Don’t be so myopic to look at a single view when it comes to the law. Just because a situation smacks of domestic violence does not mean you can’t be ‘creative’ within the law and charge the offender under other statutes. Or even under the common law. That’s just being mentally lazy, a malaise I suspect affects the top brass down.

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