The Victim Support Unit

The VSU seeks to provide opportunity for healing and therapeutic intervention in order to assist the Ministry to balance justice for all victims of crime.  This mandate is carried out through our fourteen (14)  parish offices island wide.

 

Critical complementary functions of the unit include:

  • Emotional support             Counselling and mediation.
  • Crisis intervention              Telephone counselling, on the scene response, home visits       and walk in service.
  • Special Intervention           Therapeutic interventions targeting specific
    Projects                               vulnerable groups.                     
  • Technical services               Referrals, crime prevention services and welfare.
  • Public education                 Through Public Awareness and sensitizing on victim issues     in schools, churches, private and public sectors and CBOs
  • Volunteer mobilization      Mechanisms to engender community based support
  • Networking                         Liaising with pertinent agencies/individuals to provide            comprehensive social, technical and legal support
  • Advocacy                            On behalf of clients for the attainment of their civil     liberties.
  • Court Support                    By preparing clients for Court proceedings and giving             them emotional support throughout the process.          Preparation of Court Reports      
  • Policy guidelines                 Development of Government policy guidelines

 

SPECIAL PROGRAMMES and INTERVENTIONS initiated by the VSU:

 

  1. Cultural Re-socialisation Intervention Project is a therapeutic intervention for “at-risk” and hurting children ages 6 – 18 yrs from various inner-city communities. It provides therapeutic healing for children through the use of cultural re-sensitization, cognitive restructuring, behaviour modification and the teaching of coping skills.

The children are taken out of their regular environment for a day of therapy in a “green” area which provides them with a free and healthy atmosphere. The general goal to be achieved with the use of this intervention is that participants should learn:

  1. Adequate coping skills and self determination which can help them to overcome traumatic experiences.
  2. Respect and positive regard for authority and others which is paramount to healthy socialization.
  3. That a clean and healthy environment affects us physically, psychologically and economically.
  4. That there are persons in and around their communities who can provide assistance when needed.

 

  1. Children-in-Court Project. The Victim Support Unit’s (VSU) Children in Court Programme was designed with the goal of assisting child victims of crime through the Jamaican Justice System. The programme aims to reduce the level of trauma experienced by children as they interface with the Justice system. This is achieved primarily through a series of sessions held with the child by VSU’s qualified team of social workers & counsellors. These sessions focus on evaluating & addressing the child’s fears and knowledge of the rules and process of the court, teaching them anxiety management and relaxation techniques, preparing them for all possible outcomes of trial and accompanying them to court.

A variety of methods are used to achieve these outcomes, including, play therapy, art therapy, role-playing, using model court room and at times pre-trial visits to the actual court building. The underlying premise of the programme is that preparing the child on what to expect reduces the stress, unfamiliarity and trauma of the actual process and possibly helps the clarity of the child’s testimony during trial.

  1. West Kingston Satellite Counselling Facility serves the entire set of communities that constitute Western Kingston.  This facility is equipped to provide needed counselling and trauma support services for individuals, families and groups. The strategic location of the centre is advantageous as persons within these communities who undergo traumatic situations are at times unable to readily access the necessary counselling intervention.  
  2. Overcomers in Action is a group counselling programme that provides healing and restoration to females who have been abused sexually, physically and/ or emotionally. This group intervention is open to all females who have been abused. It is conducted by professional counsellors who are trained in group therapy.

 

  1. The Special Intervention Project for Schools (SIPS) is aimed at giving therapy to children in schools who are identified as being emotionally disturbed, suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress and Depression. The SIPS is geared at helping “at risk” and hurting children ages 6 – 18 years from various inner-city and troubled schools. Many of our inner-city schools in Jamaica are affected by crime and violence leaving many of the children traumatized; this increases the likelihood that they may eventually become aggressors in a vicious cycle. These schools report a high level of psychological trauma among their students. The main objectives of the programme are:
    1. Identifying psychological trauma in children at ‘troubled’ schools
    2. Enabling teachers and parents to deal effectively with these children who usually have special social needs
    3. Offering therapy to traumatised children, and to a lesser extent, their parents.

            The programme is designed in six sessions that are categorised in periods:

  1. Psychological Screening – Identifying Psychological trauma
  2. Basic counselling skills for select students and staff
  3. Therapeutic Intervention using Cultural Resocialization therapies
  4. Individual Sessions - for select students (as is necessary)
  5. Parent Training component
  6. Assessment and Evaluation activity
  1. The Volunteer Component – The Victim Support Programme (VSP) was established to address the numerous needs of victims of crime.  It was also intended that the programme of support for victims in Jamaica, be developed as a partnership between the government and the community, hence, the development of the volunteer component of the Programme.  Through the volunteer component, ordinary citizens are given an opportunity to become active participants in strengthening the Criminal Justice System.  Volunteers are considered critical to sustaining the overall operation of Victim Support in each parish.  The programme recognizes that high proportions of victimization in communities will destroy the community over time.  For this reason, we seek well-thinking members of the community as volunteers. 

 

The Primary functions of a volunteer include:

  • Identification of victims at the community level and assisting in determining the appropriate intervention for cases.
  • Counselling and mediation or making referrals where necessary.
  • Assisting in the development and the review of policies related to the management of the Victim Support Unit.
  • Fulfillment of special tasks on behalf of victims as they relate to specific areas of professional expertise.
  • Reporting on the progress of the programme at the community level
  1.  “The Parents Place” is a “one-stop-shop” for all parents, in or near every major community, identifiable by sight and by its offerings as a comfortable and attractive place for parents to go for parenting information, mentoring support from other parents, and specific diagnostic and therapeutic services.

The overall objective of the Parents Place strategy is to provide support for parents, guardians and other caregivers via information on current and positive child-rearing practices within and outside the Caribbean, also referrals to relevant services, parenting education courses and workshops, counselling and other activities as required/desired, in order to strengthen parenting skills and capacities and improve parent-child relationships.