Sexual offences trending down in ST Mary
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Police figures released earlier this week reveal that although gender-based violence in St Mary has claimed the lives of three females in 2016, the number of sexual offences committed against women and girls in the parish has reduced by 27 per cent.
According to the deputy superintendent in charge of the St Mary police's Community Safety and Security (CSS) Branch, Lorraine Elliston, 107 sex crimes have been committed so far this year, a significant drop compared to 2015 when 146 offences were recorded.
Speaking from her office in Port Maria, Elliston noted there had been a 26 per cent fall in the number of rapes across the parish, and a considerable reduction in crimes such as cruelty to a child, indecent assault, incest, and sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 years old.
She told Rural Xpress: "The numbers are down for this year, and that is a good thing. We won't take all the credit, but I think some of the work the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) and CSS teams have been doing has really helped to bring more awareness.
"CISOCA has been going into the schools, churches, and community gatherings to highlight the importance of reporting cases because we found that in previous years, offences had been committed against young people, but sometimes the matters weren't reported. However, since then, we've developed some procedures to help ensure that people feel more comfortable reporting these matters to the police.
"The CSS team does similar work in terms of going into schools and speaking to students and parent-teacher associations to ensure that when these offences are committed, they are reported so we can investigate them and arraign the persons found to be involved."
Elliston praised the CISOCA team for achieving the highest clear-up rate in the parish, in terms of serious crimes, but confessed there is still much work to be done in terms of reducing violence against women.
She explained: "Of the 30 murders that have taken pace in the parish so far this year, four of the victims were females, three adults and one girl. Three of these murders were committed as a result of gender-based violence and can be considered domestic in the sense that the victims were either killed by a family member or somebody they were intimately involved with.
"Additionally, we found that one of the factors driving this year's figures is that in a lot of instances involving children under the age of 16, the crimes actually involved their peers and other young persons of a similar age."