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Dames not sure why child assault report was delayed

Marvin Dames.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday said he’s not sure why there was a delay in reporting the sexual assault of a young girl late last month.

He said while he has seen more reporting on crimes by authorities than ever before, there are factors that can delay police from reporting matters to the public.

He was responding to questions from The Nassau Guardian about the reporting of two sexual assaults involving two girls, ages six and 12, and the apparent lapse in reporting one of those matters, which occurred on April 28 on Bahama Avenue, off Baillou Hill Road.

Police did not release information to the media on April 28, and for more than two weeks after that, on any sexual assault on Bahama Avenue.

The second incident happened on Monday shortly after 3 p.m. According to authorities, the victim, 12, was assaulted when she was walking home. Authorities believe both acts were committed by the same person. Both matters were reported on Tuesday.

When asked whether the public ought to be concerned that authorities took two weeks to report an alleged sexual assault of a six-year-old, Dames said, “I have seen more reporting of matters than I have ever seen before, especially now with the establishment of the National Neighborhood Watch Council and police officers are now sharing crime information with the respective neighborhood watch groups, so, that is not the case.

“I think what you can see sometimes, given the – you have to look at when the matter was reported. You have to look at the information that they would have had at the time.

“There are any number of things that can kind of delay sometimes the reporting of matters because what you end up seeing is the end result of a matter. But the mere fact that you have police doing sketch work and all that, it shows there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes.”

Dames was pressed on why police work would affect the initial reporting of the alleged incident.

He was also asked whether something went array in the reporting of the crime.

“I don’t have the answers to why it would have been delayed,” he said outside the House of Assembly. “I can tell you one thing, from where I sit, and I sat on the force; you have more transparency, I have seen more transparency in recent times than I’ve ever seen.

“I see crime reports on my WhatsApp page. You would have never seen crime reports [there] in the past.

“And so, I don’t know. Maybe that’s a question you need to follow up with the commissioner and those because these are sensitive matters and sometimes there may be an urgency where there should be a media report, but it all depends on when they got the information; where the information was at, [and] there are any number of variables that could have really impacted this [matter].”

In response to whether he plans to have the reporting matter probed, Dames said every matter is of interest to him, but he did not confirm whether an investigation would be launched.

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Dames said, “It points to some of the challenges we face, right.”

Asked whether those challenges are internal to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Dames said, “Well, no; the challenges we face [are] throughout our country.

“No one likes to know there is someone out [there] who is assaulting young women and… this is why the sexual offenses registry is so important, and we are now aggressively moving to introduce that in short order, because rape or sexual assault is one of those categories of crime where it is not uncommon to find serial or repeat offenders.

“So, we need to isolate and expose those persons who are repeat offenders and let people know who they are, where they operate.”

The government has committed to introducing the registry this year. It was expected to be introduced by the Christie administration. In late 2013, amendments to the Sexual Offenses Act and the Child Protection Act were debated and passed.

The bills were to provide for the creation of a sex offenders register and a Mandatory Action Rescuing Children Operation (MARCO) alert.

The MARCO Alert system was implemented in July 2016. However, a sex offenders register has not been introduced to date.

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