Barbados Police slow to act upon threats to woman. We agree that’s newsworthy.


Barbados Police should have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy when it comes to domestic violence and threats to women

Sylvester Henderson Dear went to a woman’s home and threatened to do her violence. The reaction of the Royal Barbados Police Force was to warn Dear that he shouldn’t threaten violence to the woman.

Then… they let him go.

Five days later Dear returned to the woman’s home and again threatened her. Only then was he arrested and charged by police.

Do we see a pattern here?

First let me say that the Nation newspaper article about this incident Threats land man time is limited in information and background. Maybe the officers had their doubts about the veracity of the victim’s story. Maybe they thought the man was being “set up” by the woman. The article doesn’t even say that this was a domestic situation. Maybe we’re wrong when we guess it might be a domestic situation. Maybe it was a business deal gone bad.

What we do know is that the victim reported the first threats to the police, who then found Dear and “warned him”. Now that Dear is in jail after a second threat, the prosecution is claiming that the first threat was valid.

And therein lies the problem. The first threat was valid but the police let the man go with a warning. They gave him a second chance.

How many women have been injured or murdered because police gave the man “a second chance”?

Many jurisdictions have adopted a “zero tolerance” to domestic violence that removes the ability of police officers to caution and release the person who is alleged to have made threats or used violence. Once a complaint is made the police must take a proper signed statement from the victim, and the police must then act upon that statement by bringing the accused before a court immediately. No longer are the police required to be “judges on the street” because it is not the business of police to be judge and jury.

The balance is that the victim reporting the threats must carry through with testimony in court. No withdrawal of charges is allowed and if the victim does not appear in court or recants (usually “her”) accusation, the victim goes to jail. While that sounds like a tough prescription for victims it is necessary to prevent (usually women) from falsely claiming threats or violence to gain advantage in divorce and child custody matters.

The police may not appreciate having their options limited by being forced to act in what they judge to be “borderline” situations, but after a period of adjustment the police, society and men and women will treat domestic violence with the seriousness it deserves. Doing violence or making threats of violence are serious matters – but so is making complaints of the same.

In this case the victim is lucky that the man didn’t return with a knife on his second chance. The police are lucky too.

At least the man was arrested on the second occasion. I guess that means we’re making progress if the police are no longer waiting outside gated communities for four days because a security guard wouldn’t let them in to answer a domestic violence call.

Further Reading

Beat Your Wife In Barbados? You Are Protected From The Police If You Live In A Gated Community!

Do We Need Signs Like This In Barbados?


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Human Rights, Police

15 responses to “Barbados Police slow to act upon threats to woman. We agree that’s newsworthy.

  1. 2009

    OMG…..Kerrie Symmonds beat his wife again ?

    The police need to put this man away…!

  2. reality check

    making the victim fill out a complaint the first time a threat is made and then putting her in jail if the statement is false or she recants is a good way to level the playing field.

  3. J

    Must be a slow news day at BFP.

    Wha’ happen you don’t have any REAL journalists on staff?

  4. BFP

    True J, as your comment shows any story about domestic violence in Barbados is largely to be ignored and poo-pooed by the average Bajan male. Abuse of women just isn’t important enough to folks like you who think it’s only a story for a “slow news day”.

    Why should anyone care?

    Thanks for your input!

  5. Pitter Pater my son

    ha ha Marcus T is in hiding. But the police are going to view this article as more bashing from him. Marcus T is BFP no matter who writes the article.

    This article is more about bashing the police than about domestic abuse.

  6. Me.

    Do the police respond in a timely, appropriate, effective manner to threats of violence targeting men?

    After all, men are victims of violence far more often than women are.

    Domestic violence against women is a tragic problem, but this all needs to be placed in the context of general police inefficiency.

  7. Jack Bowman

    Dear BFP folks,

    A good piece on a crucial issue. Kudos to you for raising the matter, and for raising it well.

    One thing … you neglected to take account of the thoughts of a local community leader:

    The ex-wife and her new man used to drive pass his house everyday slowly in the new man big ride, while he had to catch bus to get to work. His files on the desk mounted until he ended up in the Mental Hospital.”

    This demonstrates what I was saying. First THE WOMAN TOOK A SERIOUS CHANCE because rather than go mad or to his grave over it, another man would have preferred to go by the hangman’s noose.


    As always, a blast.

    Take it easy, guys.

  8. Mobutu

    So let’s see: any woman brazen enough to (falsely) accuse a man of threatening her just has to stick to her story in court and his life is ruined. What feminist tools you are! And all this in dutiful imitation of Western societies. As V.S. Naipaul has said, the West Indian middle class is incapable of an original thought!


    Anyone at BFP ever had a woman go to court and tell lies on you?
    I hope that it happens and then come back here and tell us you feel when no one would believe you.

  10. reality check



    She has to stick to her story and then the Crown must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt just like any other assault.

    Testimony of neighbours, bruises and cuts will all go into the Crowns case.

    If its just a “he said”, “she said” legal situation, without any further corroborating evidence, chances are the Crown does not have enough to prove its case and will not proceed.

  11. BFP

    The old way of police not doing anything isn’t working. The old way of the police laying charges and then the husband being all “nicey nicey” until the wife withdraws the charges and then he beats on her again isn’t working.

    What suggestions do you have .10??? Just more of the same?

  12. J

    Dear BFP:

    It looks like the Police in Canada (your favourite place) ain’t up to scratch neither when it comes to men beating and killing women

    “The Special Investigations Unit is investigating the deaths of a 39-year-old mother and her estranged husband after an altercation early this morning in Orangeville…Just before midnight yesterday, police were called to a domestic dispute at an Orangeville house. Police later were called back to the house and found that the woman had been shot. She died after being airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital”

  13. sad stories

    The police force and maybe the entire judiciary needs a shake-up. Sometimes I wonder if half of the police officers use their brains. It’s not only what you are taught at training school, it’s also common sense which has been proven time and time again to be quite rare.

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