The Ministry of Justice’s St. Ann Victim Services Division (VSD) is playing a key role in providing healing and support for victims of crime in the parish, particularly children.
Acting Manager, Bernita Black, told JIS News that the office assists up to 60 persons on a monthly basis.
Services include preparing clients for court, and helping them deal with the emotional trauma caused by crime through mediation and counselling.
“We also do crisis intervention where we provide on-the-scene response or home visits,” Ms. Black said.
“We have a violence-prevention initiative where we sensitise parents and children [about] how they can reduce their chances of becoming victims of crime and where they can access services,” she added.
She said that the services are provided by two full-time counsellors and a team of volunteers.
Ms. Black told JIS News that victims are referred to the office through the police, courts, Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), school guidance counsellors, or health centres.
“Persons also walk into our office,” she noted.
She told JIS News that special focus in placed on children who are victims of crime.
“We have the Children in Court Programme where we provide emotional support to children who have to attend court. We do court orientation and we provide the support that they would need in order to be comfortable in the justice system,” she informed.