Thu | Apr 9, 2020

ICARE - Police target upper St Andrew with new domestic violence centre

Published:Sunday | February 3, 2019 | 12:16 AMCorey Robinson/Staff Reporter
Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Area 4 Devon Watkis (left), Jamie Russell (centre), deputy director of international narcotics and law enforcement at the United States Embassy, Jamaica; and Superintendent Gary Griffiths unveil the Domestic Violence Intervention Centre sign at the Matilda’s Corner Police Station last week.

The high number of domestic violence cases reported in some affluent communities in upper St Andrew is being quietly reported as the reason the police have decided to base the island’s second Domestic Violence Intervention (ICARE) Centre at the Matilda’s Corner Police Station.

While there was no official word from the police as to why Matilda’s Corner was selected to host the ICARE, they noted that the station serves several upscale communities including Mona, Paddington Terrace, Hope Pastures, Millsborough Avenue and Beverly Hills.

The centre is the second off its kind to be set up in areas marked for high reports of domestic abuse, including intimate partner violence and conflicts including family members.

It was funded by the United States Government at a cost of approximately US$50,000 and will serve the public as well as members of the police force who find themselves in violent situations with their partners.

The island’s first ICARE centre was erected in January last year at the Constant Spring Police Station.

At the launch last week the cops could not say the number of domestic abuse cases reported at the Matilda’s Corner Police Station last year but they underscored that this was not an issue restricted the impoverished communities.

“The numbers are a little difficult to give because a lot of the time, you will see persons, mainly women, come into the station and make a report. However they often opt not to take it any further because of who their spouses are,” said one policeman at the launch.

This came as no surprise to Joyce Hewett, executive director of advocacy group Woman Inc. who lauded the establishment of the centre, describing it as well needed in that community.

“Any time I am anywhere talking about domestic violence I stress the fact that it is uptown, downtown, around town. It touches every one of us no matter what the socio-economic position may be,” said Hewett, who for years has worked with victims of domestic abuse.

“This idea that it is only those people downtown who are affected is a myth, an absolute myth. It is something that is publicised only as a result of the fact that people who are uptown may have more avenues to cover it up,” added Hewett.

She argued that in many cases the victims of domestic abuse, especially those in upper societies, are ashamed of the reality.

Hewett said that the shelter signals the right move as the police become part of the intervention at the start of the abuse rather than at the end when things may become too hostile.

Reverend Carla Dunbar, family counsellor and CEO of the Carla Dunbar Ministries and Counselling Care, also welcomed the centre as she argued that it will help both victims and perpetrators.

“It doesn’t necessary has anything to do with class. Domestic violence is about a power struggle, the abuse of power and control. So a person uses violence and abuse to control and overpower the victim,” said Dunbar.

“Everybody in every sphere of it hides abuse. Persons are a shamed of it. One of the common things is that there are a lot of males who are being abused, and it is not just physically but verbally. It is a very common thing,” added Dunbar.

The centre will be aimed at addressing physical, verbal, financial and sexual abuse cases, and will see police officers being trained to deal with various situations, including the abuse of males.