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Strong arm

New Domestic Violence Act gives more power to police

The police will be given sweeping powers under amended domestic violence legislation to act in order to prevent or stop domestic abuse.

Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett today introduced the Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which outlines how law enforcement officers should respond to cases of gender-based violence and the circumstances under which they must act.

Under the amended statute, a junior police officer may issue an emergency protection order if he or she has reason to believe that such an order is necessary to ensure the safety of a person at risk. Low-ranking officers may also issue emergency protection orders without the consent of the persons at risk.

Among the other powers handed to the Royal Barbados Police Force is the authority to enter any premises without a warrant if an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that an emergency protection order, an interim protection order or a final protection order is being breached. Officers will also be given the power to enter premises –– upon the invitation of a person resident there or independently –– if there is reasonable grounds to suspect that a person on the premises has suffered, or is in imminent danger of suffering, physical injury at the hands of some other person.

Blackett told parliamentarians that under the amended Act, the Force shall respond to every complaint alleging domestic violence and the Commissioner of Police must keep a Domestic Violence Register to record information obtained by members of the Force who respond to complaints alleging domestic violence.

The Act mandates officers who respond to complaints alleging domestic violence to complete a report in accordance with a specified form and record the information in the register, and to provide the person making the report with a copy as soon as practicable.

“Where practicable, a member of the Police Force responding to a victim of domestic violence shall render assistance by seeking medical attention for the victim who suffered injury; accompany the victim onto premises for the purpose of retrieving personal property; assistance must also be rendered ensuring the welfare and safety of children and other persons on the premises and the officer must ensure there are no further breaches of the law,” the minister continued.

“The Act further states that a member of the Police Force shall as soon as is practicable after receiving a complaint alleging domestic violence, verbally inform the victim of domestic violence of his or her rights and provide a printed copy of those rights as set out in the prescribed form of the Schedule to the Act.”

In an attempt to eliminate any further acts of violence at the home, the legislation empowers law enforcement officers –– pursuant to an order of the Court –– to seize any ammunition, firearms or other weapons in the possession or control of perpetrators, whether or not those weapons were used to commit acts of domestic violence.

When Blackett announced in November 2015 that he planned to take the amendments to Parliament to ensure conformity with internal best practice, women’s rights advocate Marilyn Rice-Bowen promised that a team of women activists would attend the sitting.

Today, the promise was kept as the former president of the National Organization of Women and fellow activists took their seats in a packed public gallery for the presentation.

However, Rice-Bowen later declined comment, telling Barbados TODAY she would await its passage in both houses of Parliament before offering remarks.

President of the Men’s Educational Support Association Grantley Osbourne offered similar reasons for declining comment.

5 Responses to Strong arm

  1. Tony Waterman January 27, 2016 at 1:51 am

    This is all well and good, and reads good on Paper, but nowhere do i see anyway of lowering the tension between the two Partners, which as far as i am aware of is achieved by REMOVING the AGGRESSOR from the vicinity.

    Would it be possible to have this as part of the Bill being put before Parliament.

    I am here wondering!!!! Why would these two organisations NOW and MESA wait until this bill is passed to “PERHAPS” criticize it or parts of it, before offering up suitable amendments before it is passed ???

    This is another clear example of how this Westminister Style of doing things work against us and not for us. under this style there MUST always be CONFRONTATION.And 50 years later it still persists.

  2. Lawrence Griffith
    Lawrence Griffith January 27, 2016 at 3:04 am

    This bill should be put into the garbage can. This hasn’t or can provide protection for the victim, but instead is open for police abuse.
    Obs!! ” Under the amended statute, a junior police officer may issue an emergency protection order if he or she has reason to believe that such an order is necessary to ensure the safety of a person at risk. Low-ranking officers may also issue emergency protection orders without the consent of the persons at risk.”
    This bill is dangerous to men because if a man call the police and want to restrain his spouse the police isn’t going to investigate it as serious because there’s a stereotype myth that women does No harm, Physically.
    With the help of the police New powers those who are manipulative will inflict pain and suffering.
    Nothing in this bill said nothing about kids being involved and protecting them and the parent right to access and be a father??
    This bill is open for police and spouse abuse.
    Anytime you giving the police power to enter a property without a warrant is looking for danger.
    This bill looking out for women but is killing men and children that are involved. At the same time talking away the right to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The right to be free from police search and seizures without a warrant.
    This bill shows how little the politicians think about democracy and human rights..

  3. Beverley Garnes January 27, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Mr. Griffith, I agree with you wholeheartedly. This leaves too much room for police officers to abuse their powers, especially junior officers who feel so emboldened once they get their stripes.
    What I would like to know is if effective psyc evaluations are done on officers before they are hired.
    Over the years there have been so many allegations of abuse in matters where officers are executing search warrants, imagine in situations where they do not even need to have a warrant.

    And why would Ms. Rice-Bowen need to wait until the bill is passed to make any comments?

  4. Sue Donym January 27, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    “The officer must ensure no further breaches of the law”. I imagine the Commissioner of Police will want to have some input here; this terminology leaves the RBPF open to serious litigation.

    On the good side some proposals would allow police to act on a report by a credible child witness and in the case of an unconscious or uncommunicative victim where an act of violence is suspected.

    About the definition of domestic violence, could we see details, for example is it gender specific; does it apply where the parties are, say relatives sharing a home or one is a friend visiting a residence; do the provisions cover any violence or suspected violence taking place in a home regardless of who the parties are?

  5. Andrew Rudder February 23, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Will this bill proposed be preventing bodily harm more effectively or progress the murder rate ?


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