A police officer escorts a handcuffed Otis Lockhart from the wharf to the Central Police Station.

Police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have launched an investigation into a case in which a Vincentian man and his American wife and children were living in a tent on the Grenadine island of Bequia for five years.

A senior police official told iWitness News on Tuesday that police are trying to determine if the man, Otis Lockhart, who is originally from Edinboro, held the other members of his family against their will.

The police source said that the family was living in deplorable conditions on the Northern Grenadine island when police were notified of the situation on Monday.

The source said that initial reports are that in some cases the children were “acting like animals” and appeared to be malnourished.

iWitness News has obtained a video of the family disembarking a ferry at the Grenadine Wharf in Kingstown.

They are escorted by at least one police officer — who is in uniform — and what appears to be a social worker.

The children are walking with a strange gait, but iWitness News is unable to say what is the cause.

Lockhart is in handcuffs.

The family, which includes three children — a boy around 13 years old and two girls, believed to be 10 and 8 — were taken to the health centre in Bequia for medical attention before they were all transported to Kingstown.

Police are trying to determine if any member of the family was being held against their will.

The woman is said to be a born U.S. citizen and her children are also said to be U.S. citizens, but iWitness News was unable to determine if they were born in the United States.

The police source said that depending on the information provided by the family, abduction or other charges can be brought against either or both of the adults.