Jensen La Vende
HEAD of the Child Protection Unit Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne wants the public to bring any information they have concerning sexual predators to the police.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Guy-Alleyne said citizens taking such matters into their own hands can be detrimental to both them and the person they are highlighting. She was commenting on a YouTube video posted on the page To Catch A Predator TT.
The page has two videos with those involved catching adult men wanting to have sex with minors. The explicit contents of chats between the men and those they think are teenage girls are shared along with videos and pictures of the men. The first video, posted over a week ago, has over 8,000 views. The second video posted on Monday amassed over 3,500 views in less than a day.
“These people (To Catch a Predator TT) need to be very careful with what they are doing. Because the information is not brought to the police. And people are all over social media doing these things, which could be detrimental to themselves as well others.”
She said as far as she was aware, neither of the two videos posted were brought to the attention of the police nor was any official police report made.
In the most recent video, a 51-year-old man was recorded at a meeting point in Arima where he was supposed to have met a 14-year-old girl and her 12-year-old cousin for sex. The first video was man believed to be 29, who went to a location in Central Trinidad to also meet with a 14-year-old girl.
The administrators of the channel said in response to comment that the police told them nothing could be done legally about the men’s actions.
“They (police) said that the way how the law is set up in Trinidad, this wouldn’t stand up in court. So we’re just focused on exposure, rather than an arrest.”
The administrators said that none of the men have wronged the administrators adding that their aim “is to protect the children/young teens in our society.”
Section 21 of the Children Act makes it illegal to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activities and carries a range of punishment from a $50,000 fine to life imprisonment. Chapter 25 of the Act also makes it illegal to groom a child for sex which carries a penalty of at least $50,000 and up to 20 years in prison.
The law defines sexual grooming as “gaining the trust of a child, or of a person who takes care of the child, for the purpose of sexual activity with the child.”
Guy-Alleyne said: “If you have information we need them to take it to the police and let us action it so it will be a police operation not civilians taking action into their own hands.”
She said it was not a case of people not having faith in the police and even if that were the case, with over 7,000 police officers, there must be one trustworthy enough to bring the matter to.
“Sometimes your actions may be bordering on unlawful. So it is better you bring the information to the police and demand action. If you’re seeing inaction, you could demand action. We have 8,000 police officers out of a society of how many people? There must be one officer that you can trust.”