JAMAICA – Child abuse, rape a big problem – Portland Police Chief
Supt Oberlene Smith-Whyte insists that the Police are doing proper investigations
KINGSTON – SUPERINTENDENT of Police in charge of the Portland Division, Oberlene Smith-Whyte is raising concerns over what she says is the low conviction rate of rapists in the eastern parish.
Smith-Whyte, who made the disclosure in an interview with the Jamaica Observer North and East, emphatically stated that the low conviction rate is particularly troublesome when it is considered that two of the biggest problems plaguing the parish are child abuse and rape.
“One of biggest problems I have in Portland is the abuse of our children, especially rape.
“We get a lot of those offences; people having sex with children under age 16 and men raping children. And what I find here is that there are no convictions,” Smith-Whyte said.
She explained that jurors believe that they are not presented with enough evidence and so the case is oftentimes thrown out.
“…Obviously, they don’t think that they should convict them even when the presiding judge directs the jurors in that direction; they come up with a verdict of not guilty,” she added.
Smith-Whyte insisted that the investigations are properly done and that in most cases there is sufficient evidence for a [conviction] but the perpetrators, mostly men, walk free.
“The investigators who do the rape cases do a very good job.
“What we have to start doing more is relying on forensic science and that is the area we are looking into now,” she said.
Smith-Whyte added: “I want to wake up people’s consciousness to the fact that when a young girl is abused, that victim more than likely will never ever have confidence around men. It is going to be very difficult because she was abused. And when that young girl becomes an adult and has a partner, she still may not like men which may result in constant conflicts which end up at police stations. Or, she may abuse her son because of her experience which may cause that son to become an abuser. It’s a chain reaction and we don’t really think about these things.”
The superintendent said to combat this problem and effect change, a series of workshops are being planned to sensitise Portlanders on the worrisome issue.
Statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Corporate Communications Unit show that 20 rapes were recorded last year in Portland, with Port Antonio accounting for 19 and Buff Bay one. Hope Bay recorded none. For this year, up to August 20, it showed 15 recorded rapes, with Port Antonio accounting for 14, Hope Bay one and Buff Bay none.
As to other crimes in the parish, Superintendent Smith-Whyte informed that there has been a 35 per cent reduction in overall crimes when compared with last year.
Smith-Whyte said 170 major crimes were recorded at the end of last year while 128 have so far been recorded this year. She also disclosed that seven murders were recorded last year and that five have so far been recorded this year.