Download Victim Services Division brochure
The Victim Services Division (VSD), previously Victim Support Unit, is the arm of the Ministry of Justice established to provide therapeutic interventions for all victims of crime. The VSD is committed to act in the best interest of victims by actively supporting them, identifying their needs, and optimising their participation in the justice system. The Division, through its 14 parish offices island-wide, assists victims of crime to manage and cope with the emotional trauma associated with and caused by crime.
Philosophy of a Victim Support System
The service provision framework of the VSD is built on the following premises:
- the services are free, of the highest quality, and are confidential
- they seek to uphold victims’ rights
- the services are offered with neutrality and equal opportunity to all within our shores
- efforts are made to form victim support service networks
- the encouragement of community involvement and volunteerism
- crime prevention
- standardized operations
- the facilitation of data collection and research on victims issues
Critical Services of the VSD
- Face-to-Face, Telephone and E-counselling
- Crisis Interventions
- Court Support and Preparation
- Victim Rights Advocacy
- Public education and capacity building for victim services practitioners
- Development of Victim Sensitive Special Intervention Programmes
- Networking & Promotions
- Technical Services
- Policy Development and Implementation
- Volunteer Mobilization
- Programme Administration & Data Management
Counselling and Emotional Support
Counselling and emotional support are available to all victims of crime. This service includes, but is not limited to: play therapy, counselling for victims of intimate partner violence, emotional screenings for child and adolescent victims and e-counselling. E-counselling is used to encompass all counselling that takes place when the counsellor and client are not physically present with each other. These include systems for written as well as audio and video communication.
This service is provided especially in cases where the victim(s) may require urgent attention, and may be delivered through telephone counselling, on-the-scene response, and home visits. This service mostly includes the identification and referral of child trafficking victims.
Victim Rights Advocacy
This service is provided on behalf of clients for the attainment of their civil liberties. The VSD utilizes a victim-centered approach, which systematically focuses on the needs and concerns of a victim/witness to ensure the compassionate and sensitive delivery of services in a non-judgmental manner.
Court Support and Preparation
This service provides victims of crime with emotional support throughout the court process, along with an orientation to the court’s environment, structure, personnel, and procedures. Court support is a feature of the VSD Children-in- Court Programme.
These services include referrals and crime prevention services.
VSD Special Programmes and Interventions
1. Animation Series
The VSD has developed an animation series portraying issues that are connected to violence and related trauma in children. These films are being utilized as communication tools for social and behavioural change, information dissemination, and psychoeducation.
In the animation series, the Justice action Hero “Justy” highlights various issues affecting children, and addresses them in a non-threatening way through proposing solutions. The series topics are listed below:
2. Cultural Re-Socialisation Intervention Programme
This programme is a one day therapeutic intervention for “at-risk” and hurting children aged 6-18 years old from inner-city and troubled communities. This intervention programme promotes healing through the use of cultural re-sensitization, cognitive restructuring, behaviour modification and the teaching of coping skills.
3. Special Intervention Project for Schools (SIPS)
This programme is a group therapeutic intervention designed to assist communities and inner-city troubled schools affected by crime and violence. The main objectives of the programme are to:
- identify psychological trauma in children
- enable teachers and parents to deal effectively with these children who usually have special social needs
- offer therapy to traumatized children and, to a lesser extent, their parents
4. Overcomers In Action
This intervention is a group counselling programme designed to provide healing and restoration to females who are victims of sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse. This intervention programme is conducted by professional counsellors who are trained in group therapy.
5. Children-in-Court Programme
This programme is designed to assist child victims/witnesses of crime as they interface with the Jamaican Justice System and aims to reduce the level of trauma they experience throughout the process.
A variety of methods are used to achieve the objectives of the programme including court accompaniment on the day of trial, play therapy, role playing, the use of a model court room, and, at times, pre-trial visits to the actual court building. Children are additionally taught anxiety management and relaxation techniques.
6. Volunteer Programme
The VSD runs an ongoing volunteer programme through which ordinary citizens are trained and given the opportunity to become active participants in strengthening the criminal justice system. The primary functions of volunteers include the identification of victims at the community level and assisting in determining the appropriate intervention for cases.
To become a volunteer, call or visit any VSD parish office and complete a registration form.
7. West Kingston Satellite Counselling Facility
This facility serves the entire set of communities that constitute Western Kingston and is equipped to provide counselling and trauma support services for individuals, families and groups. The strategic location of the centre is advantageous as persons living in these communities who undergo traumatic situations are at times unable to readily access the necessary counselling intervention.
VSD Intervention Tools
1. Missing Children Risk Assessment Tool (MCRAT)
The MCRAT was designed to solicit information that will allow the VSD to assess the vulnerability of a child who may be at risk of abuse, sexual violence, abduction, or human trafficking. The purpose of the tool is to give the VSD the ability to profile and identify these children in advance for the possible prevention of the child going missing.
2. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Risk Assessment Tool
The IPV screening tool is an initial screening process that identifies areas of a client's life that may be at-risk for intimate partner violence and require further assessment. The counsellor then uses the tool to make further evaluations in determining the appropriate care response and intervention to be provided to the client.
3. Identification and Referral of Child Traffic Victim Tool
This tool provides initial screening to help in the identification of possible child victims of Trafficking in Persons (TiP).
4. The Bailey’s Feelings Perception Indicator-BFPI-II
The BFPI-II is a tool that can be used with children between the ages of 6 and 12 years. It is intended to project the perceived levels of emotions that are associated with trauma being experienced by a child. The tool gives the child a spectrum of emotions as well as an opportunity to reflect how much of the positive or negative emotion is being experienced by the child.
47E Old Hope Road
Click to access listing of VSD parish offices island wide