Many of the “missing person” reports issued by police in relation to teenage girls end with sex charges being brought, a senior police officer said on Thursday.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Trevor Bailey agreed on Hot 97 that it is fair that the public, having been asked to assist in locating these teens, should be notified when they are found.
“Most of the time, after they have been reunited with their families, it always ends up in an investigation being done in respect of sexual assault,” Bailey said, adding that a consideration is not exposing the teen victims to further public scrutiny.
“A lot of times arrests are made and maybe it is our reporting pattern that has you … concerned,” he said in response to a question from a host.
He said that in many cases, charges are brought before the court after these teens are reunited with their families.
Bailey, who is in charge of crime fighting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, however, said that some of these are indictable charges and are not disposed of after just one court hearing.
“Let’s said if it’s unlawful sexual intercourse or rape, that matter does not finish in the Family Court. It reaches all the way up to the Supreme Court. So it takes some time in the system. But pretty often after the missing person report, it ends up with sexual assault charges being laid at the Family Court.
He said maybe the police can report better, adding that while he was not defending the police, they also have to consider not subjecting the teen victims to further public scrutiny.
Bailey said that if the police ask for help, they should report back and said they have received the help and are grateful and someone has been charged.
“Because when we put out the information for help, the thing is the identity of that young lady is already known. So that is the issue. We can report better in that regard,” he said.
Bailey, who is also the officer in charge of the Sexual Offences Units, was asked about the circulation on social media of videos of underaged girls engaging in sexual activity.
The senior detective said the public should not recirculate such videos.
He said that if someone come across a video like that they should contact the police or the Sexual Offences Unit at +1-784-453-4599
“Report that to the police. Do not send it to your friends. Circulating it is victimising someone who is already a victim,” Bailey said.
He said the police take seriously and investigate every such case that is brought to their attention.
Bailey said that the police have arrested and charged people as a result of such videos, noting that there was a particular case when there was public outcry over what was perceived as a “light” sentence for the perpetrator.
“The issue is that the court cannot give a sentence that the law does not prescribe,” he said, adding that people have to put their emotions aside and deal with what is on the law books.
“If someone can only be given three years, the public cannot ask for five,” Bailey said, adding that amendments to the nation’s sexual and gun offences laws are in the works.
“There are some amendments to the law in relation to sex offences and they are coming. Likewise, the amendment to the firearms act is also coming,” Bailey said.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security and legal affairs, has said that the government will soon ask Parliament to approve stiffer penalties for gun and sex crimes.