Minister of National Mobilisation, Frederick Stephenson. (iWN file photo)

Police officers do not need a warrant to arrest an alleged domestic abuser if they believe that failure to act would result in serious physical injury or death.

Minister of Social Development, Frederick Stephenson, citing the Domestic Violence Act, underscored this point during last week’s budget debate.

The minister did not refer to the killing of a nurse, Arianna Taylor-Israel, on Jan. 30, allegedly by her husband, Mitchell Israel

However, his comment came at a time when the nation’s attention is focused on the failure of the police to arrest Israel even as they had such a warrant and amidst three reports over five days that he had threatened to kill his wife.

Israel is alleged to have used his licensed firearm to kill his wife outside their elder son’s school.

Stephenson said the law speaks of the avenues for action for victims, such as their right to protection and support.

“Mr Speaker, persons have still yet to understand what they need to do in a report of a matter of domestic violence,” the minister said, adding that every case of domestic violence when reported to the police must be taken seriously.

Stephenson, who is also minister of Gender Affairs, said that the Domestic Violence Act says police cannot tell an alleged victim of domestic violence, whether male or female,  “go home, sleep, make up, wake up.

“The act, Mr. Speaker, provides broad outlines as to what is to be done. When a report of domestic violence is reported to the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, the response mechanism, Mr. Speaker is instantly activated,” the minister told parliament and media audiences.

 He said section 19 of the law mandates the police to receive and investigate reports of domestic violence.

“Mr. Speaker, and as such, it is necessary for these reports to be lodged at the police station and a medical report [form] be given to the victim so that … a medical form can be taken to … a medical practitioner and when that medical form is returned, the police will continue their investigations,” Stephenson said.

“The police also, under the Act, have the right and the power to act without a warrant in cases where there is reasonable cause to believe that failure to act may result in serious physical injury or death,” he said.

He further indicated that section 22 of the Act spells out the duty of the police when entering premises in domestic violence situations to assist any victim who is injured, to ensure the welfare and safety of any child or dependent, and to prevent any further breach of the law.

“These are all laid out in the Domestic Violence Act… And, Mr. Speaker, we are saying that the policy of the government in relation to the Domestic Violence Act which is a mandate of the Gender Affairs Division, there are a lot of things that we ought to do.”

Stephenson said that the Gender Affairs Division is also mandated to assist victims of domestic violence.

“Reports may come from several government agencies and they come to the ministry; they may come from the Ministry of Education, They may come from the Ministry of Health, they may come from the Ministry of — they may come from workers, from parents, from guardians or other interested persons or institutions.

“Once these matters are reported to the ministry, the Gender Affairs Division, We, within the ministry, continue to work with the persons — perpetrators and even the victims,” the minister said.  

11 replies on “Warrant not needed to arrest domestic abusers”

  1. The Minister is wrong. Threatening language is not an arrestable offense. However, there are a combination of actions the Police could have taken. The first is to warn Husband of Israel and take possession of his firearm. The second is the remove Mrs. Israel into the care of the Social Welfare Department or a family member or guardian with twenty four hour police protection. If there were indeed an act of violence the Police has the power to arrest. Mere threats by itself is not an arrestable offense. This how foolish the law is.

    A Police Officer may arrest any person without a warrant if an arrestable offense is committed in his view or if an arrestable offense has been committed and the Police believe the individual is guilty of committing such offense. You have to read the law in its entirety. You would not fully understand the law by reading sections of it.

  2. This information should have been sent out in the form of a Force Order to all police stations. Even before the incident occurred given the fact that domestic violence is so prevalent in our society .

  3. Well, this must be what they call 20 20 hindsight. However, there is a difference between talking about and doing something. With the spate of violence going on the government should have done their duty a long time ago. Now, we can all see and hear what sounds like an excuse more than an admission.

  4. Dummies you all have in Saint Vincent. Bunch of ideates you have in that whole place and in the police force mainly. Corruption I will call it. Israel was their friend. Jail all of them. Two children are left without a mother.

  5. Mr. Augustas Carr, at Common Law threatening language is what you consider a misdemeanor, it’s not arrestable indeed if someone just used a basic threat to another but if that threat is made in the presence of a police officer, then the police can arrest. If the threat is such that the person who is being threatened fears that the threat will be carried out then the police can obtain a warrant and effect that arrest. You made some good points as to what could have done in the circumstances but I will want to believe that in the Domestic Violence act in St. Vincent and the Grenadine there is a phrase as, “The predominant aggressor”. Therefore under the Domestic Violence Act, the police do not need a warrant to arrest the predominant aggressor. In the case of this nurse , the husband uses threats towards her to kill her, she was fearful for her life and that’s why she went to the police, therefore in effect the husband is the predominant aggressor and could have been arrested under the Domestic Violent Act. Also under the same DV Act, the police could have arrested him for a cooling off period and the police also have the power to arrest someone to prevent a further breach of the peace. So when you come boldly to say the Minister is wrong, I believe you needs to get a copy of the DV Act and read it for yourself and get better acquainted with the wide powers of arrest that the police have. Nowhere in the story I read that the Minister suggested arresting for threatening language, he was basting his arguments on the powers of the police under the DV Act.

  6. No they are idiots and yes Israel is their friend that’s why they looked the other way in the first place,now these babbling baboons are trying to justify their incompetence.Imbeciles

  7. Sometimes the Police find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the handling of Domestic threats / violence. Threat : A report is received and a stateroom is recorded. Police may ask the complainant what course of act he or she prefers. Some would say court action and some would say ” warn him / her with me”. Police would then proceed as recommended. Violence: A report is received and a stateroom is recorded. Medical forms are issued to the complainant to see a Doctor and the forms to be returned to the Police. 99% of the times only upon return of the medical forms would the Police act. Base on the medical report the offense would be categorized and an arrest would be made. Most likely outcomes: (1) the medical forms nor the complainant will never return. (2) Complainants come back to Police to say ” I don’t want no case “. (3) the day of hearing the complainant did not show up / case dismiss. A very small percent of all Domestic cases would end with a result that would deem to be a deterrent. So a very large percent of these cases get made up / thrown out. Therefore the Lawmen get discouraged and often not having much appetite for executing the law with full force. We are victims of our own culture.

    1. @ Ex-police. I would not have like to make a report to you and expect results because from what am reading here you was a lackadaisical police officer, one who shows up on the job because you have to. Now when a report is made to the police by anyone, the person make that report because they are seeking redress, they came to the police because they are of the opinion that the police can help them, the police have no right, no moral authority to ask a complaint what course of action they want, the report is made to the police, deal with it and if in the police opinion the report warrants a warning then the police can warn, if it is a report that the police thinks warrant court action them proceed as such. In a domestic violence case, when the complaint comes to the police to make a report, the first thing the police have to do is look for visible injuries, where there is injuries then you have them photographed and you can used your personal cell phone to do that then you fill out a medical form and have that person taken to a doctor, note that I said taken not sent, the police should remain with that person and ensure that the doctor fill out his portion on the medical form and the police collect it. So when you talking about medical form never come back, it’s just rubbish, if at the time the doctor cannot complete the form, it is the duty of the police to check for it and to ensure they receive it. After the doctors visit then you record your statement. You prepare your file for court and send that matter off for prosecution, in the event that the complaint do not show up, the Magisrtate have options. Or if the complaint goes to court and requested no further action that’s his or her prerogative. The police should not concern themselves too much about the court’s outcome all the police have to do is ensure they do their part. If a complaint shows up to court and said they don’t want any further action or they don’t show up at all and the case dismissed then that’s a matter for the complaint. If the complaint comes back to the police and make another report the police is mandated to deal with the report. That’s the police job.

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