17,298 crimes re­ported in 2016, Po­lice Vic­tim Sup­port Unit launched

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Joanna Demarco

In a pi­lot project of the Vic­tim Sup­port Unit which be­gan in Jan­uary, ap­prox­i­mately 40 in­di­vid­u­als made use of the ser­vice per month, ac­cord­ing to Min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Carmelo Abela. More­over, sta­tis­tics show that in 2016 alone, 17,298 crimes were re­ported in Malta.

The new Vic­tim Sup­port Unit run by the Po­lice Force, which was launched yes­ter­day, will give more at­ten­tion to the hu­man as­pect of the po­lice corps, whilst work­ing along­side the in­ves­tiga­tive as­pect, ex­plained the Min­is­ter.

Speak­ing at the press launch, Min­is­ter Abela spoke about the im­por­tance of such a unit, say­ing that more of­ten than not, “the po­lice are the first peo­ple who meets the vic­tim,” and the unit “will give at­ten­tion to the hu­man as­pect of the po­lice corps” rather than just the in­ves­tiga­tive an­gle.

The Min­is­ter went on to say that in this pi­lot project a va­ri­ety of in­di­vid­u­als and cases were seen to, where no par­tic­u­lar age group was noted. How­ever, the Min­is­ter made ref­er­ence to the ob­ser­va­tion that ‘most peo­ple were women’.

The Vic­tim Sup­port Unit, run by In­spec­tor Sil­vana Gafa aims at min­i­miz­ing the ‘ad­verse emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal stresses of Vic­tims of Crime by pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion, sup­port, help and on­go­ing train­ing to po­lice on vic­tim-cen­tered prac­tices’. Train­ing for po­lice has so far in­cluded train­ing in deal­ing with child abuse vic­tims, whilst the next train­ing will be in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Min­is­ter Abela said that since the Vic­tim of Crimes Act was ap­proved in 2015, vic­tims were men­tioned how­ever not given “the at­ten­tion they de­serve”.

In­spec­tor Gafa de­scribed the unit as be­ing “a sin­gle point of con­tact for vic­tims of crime”, where they will be in con­tact with NGO’s such as Vic­tim Sup­port Malta, and Ap­pogg, amongst oth­ers, to help guide the per­son seek­ing help to a more spe­cial­ized or­gan­i­sa­tion if needed.

Once the in­di­vid­ual files the re­port re­quest­ing help, they will be in­formed about the Vic­tim Sup­port Unit ser­vices, In­spec­tor Gafa ex­plained. Once con­sent is given, the vic­tim will be con­tacted by the Vic­tim Sup­port Unit and their needs as­sess­ment will be con­ducted, and will by as­sisted ac­cord­ing to their spe­cific needs.

More­over, prac­ti­cal help will be pro­vided, where clients fil­ing the re­port will be kept in­formed about the crim­i­nal process, will be guided through the court sys­tem and will be given ad­vice on how to pre­vent fur­ther vic­tim­i­sa­tion, elab­o­rated In­spec­tor Gafa.

The Vic­tim Sup­port Unit could be reached on 112 or at any po­lice sta­tion. If the in­di­vid­ual would need help at a later stage, rather than on the spot, they can con­tact the Vic­tim Sup­port Unit on 22942160.

Pho­tos: Baskal Mal­lia

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