Bahamas Crisis Centre Director Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson said yesterday the police should be the first point of contact for victims of domestic violence and it is not realistic to expect volunteers of the organization to intervene in domestic disputes.
Her comments came a day after Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell said he wanted a change in the center's policy for dealing with domestic violence victims.
"On Friday, we had an incident where a husband and wife [had] their domestic situation come to a violent end, more or less," Bell said.
"I called the Crisis Centre immediately after hearing [about] the incident to ask if they could intervene and render some assistance.
"I asked if they could intervene and make some inquiries. I was advised that one of the victims would have to actually come to the Crisis Centre for help, not so much someone on the outside, a third party, not even a minister of government."
Bell said if true, then the policy is "inherently wrong".
Dean-Patterson said in times of emergency the first point of contact for a victim or friends and relatives of a victim would be the police.
She added that the center is staffed mostly with volunteers and does not have the resources to mediate disputes.
The nonprofit organization runs a hotline for victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and offers counseling and assistance to people who contact the center.
"The Crisis Centre doesn't have the human resources [to do that]," said Dean-Patterson when asked to respond to Bell's comments. "It's not realistic to expect volunteers to go out and intervene in domestic violence incidents.
"The police are the first line of defense in issues of domestic violence. If you are a concerned citizen, a friend or a relative [of a victim] you can call the Crisis Centre and talk about the problem they have. "The key thing is getting a relationship with the victim and let them know that they have options."
On Sunday, Bell told The Nassau Guardian that he planned to speak with Dr. Dean-Patterson to suggest a change in the way the Crisis Centre handles domestic disputes.
Bell added that in the last 20 years, an estimated 45 percent of the homicide rate has been attributed to domestic violence.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade recently said that many murders that took place this year were a result of domestic disputes.
Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian