At what point do Police take over?

Monday, April 20th, 2015

There have been several incidents reported to the San Pedro Police by third-party witnesses of civilians being victimized, especially in cases involving domestic violence and sexual abuse, but the victim refuses to press charges on their assailant. Persons who commit these crimes are never brought to justice, even though many are aware of the incident and believe police should have intervened with or without the consent of the victim. Under the Laws of Belize, police can charge any person for committing a crime, whether the defendant requests court action or not, once the act committed is indictable under the Criminal Code of Belize and there is sufficient evidence to warrant an arrest.Hardship Maritime Allowance Island Police-1
In cases such as these, police lay out charges for the prosecution officer, but it is up to the Magistrate to decide whether to charge the person or relieve them from the case. The Indictable Procedure Act Chapter 96 Section 19 (1) states, “Any magistrate who has reason to believe that a crime has been committed within the limits of his jurisdiction for which the offender might, according to any statute for the time being in force, be arrested without warrant, or that there is reasonable ground for inquiring whether that crime has been committed within those limits or, in either case, that there is reasonable ground for inquiring by whom the suspected crime has been committed, may, whether any particular person is charged or not, summon to appear before him any person whom he has reason to believe to be capable of giving material evidence concerning the crime, and may examine the person upon oath concerning the crime and, if he sees cause, bind the person by recognizance to attend and give evidence, if called upon by any magistrate or by the court at any time within the twelve months then next ensuing, unless the person can show some reasonable excuse to the contrary.”
According to Officer in Charge of the Coastal Executive Unit, Assistant Superintendent Henry Jemmott, this is most common in domestic violence cases. Victims of domestic violence at many times do not seek police intervention. “We have had many reports from domestic violence victims who ask for police assistance but then they don’t want to press charges against the person that abuses them. These persons use many excuses to justify their attacker, even though they are continuously victimized,” said Jemmott. He stated that when incidents like these happen, police intervene and pass on the case to the judge to decide what to do. “What these victims don’t realize is that each time they allow their attacker to ‘get away’, the abuse just gets worse. This is because their attacker feels that they will always be allowed to get away with committing the abuse. What will happen when the domestic abuse gets out of hand and leads to the victim getting severely hurt or even murdered? This is why it is best to report these incidents the first time it happens to avoid it ever occurring again. Victims cannot continue to defend their abuser, they need to report them and stand their ground to ensure that justice is made,” said Jemmott.
Jemmott also indicated that these circumstances are also common in sexual abuse and social issues. People believe that is best not to report incidents to police to avoid discrimination and repercussions from the accused. “Cases involving sexual abuse are very sensitive issues. Sometimes the victims do not report the crime because they are afraid or are just embarrassed of stating what has happened to them. In cases like this, we do our best to ensure that the victim is protected. What we are trying to make the community understand is that if abusers are not reported, then they are walking free with the liberty to commit the crime again. It is best to report these incidents the first time it happens to avoid it happening ever again,” said Jemmott.
Police cannot implement or enforce the law against such cases if they have no knowledge of the incident. Persons who have witnessed such crimes are asked to report it to the local police department. At many times, persons that commit offenses and are unpunished go on to commit more heinous crimes that could have been prevented. OC Jemmott would also like to take the opportunity to ask victims of crimes not to be afraid, and to seek justice from their aggressor. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep their community safe from crime.
To make a report visit the San Pedro Police Station on Pescador Drive, call 206-2022, or contact OC Jemmott directly at cell number 600-6423 or email [email protected]. To make an anonymous report contact Crime Stoppers toll free at 0-800-922-TIPS (8477). To contact Crime Stoppers Belize directs call 501-607-1484 or email [email protected].


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