Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Pro­gramme Em­barks upon Youth Trans­for­ma­tion

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Faye-Chantelle Mon­de­sir

The Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Pro­gramme was this week held at the Po­lice Train­ing Academy, to as­sist of­fi­cers in their ef­forts at curb­ing ju­ve­nile crime. Mil­ton De­sir, the act­ing deputy com­mis­sioner told the STAR: “The Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Sys­tem saw the need for re­form. We be­lieve in­di­vid­u­als start to go off the rails when they are quite young and our of­fi­cers have to be trained to deal with this.”

He said in­car­cer­a­tion at the Boys Train­ing Cen­tre should be the last re­sort. “There should be in­ter­ven­tion by the so­cial and pro­ba­tion ser­vices even be­fore the court sys­tem gets in­volved.” He said peer pres­sure played a ma­jor role in ju­ve­nile delin­quency, with males most af­fected.

“Be­cause we are first re­spon­ders in such mat­ters, we need to be ap­pro­pri­ately trained. Our work is not just about ar­rest­ing young peo­ple and tak­ing them to court. In many in­stances we need to work with the so­cial ser­vices.”

De­sir re­vealed that of­fi­cers from the Borde­lais Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity, like the reg­u­lar po­lice, have shown great en­thu­si­asm for the train­ing pro­grammes.

The min­is­ter for So­cial Jus­tice and Youth De­vel­op­ment, Mr. Le­nard Montoute, shared the of­fi­cer’s sen­ti­ments: “I am very happy and en­cour­aged by the fact that this is one step to­ward pro­vid­ing an im­proved ser­vice to our ju­ve­niles and our chil­dren who need care and pro­tec­tion. It is im­por­tant we en­sure that peo­ple who are have suf­fered the trauma abuse, are not fur­ther vic­timised.”

Montoute be­lieves the jus­tice sys­tem needs to un­dergo re­form so as to bet­ter serve young peo­ple. He is pleased about the in­tro­duc­tion of new pro­grammes to the jus­tice sys­tem. “To­day’s pro­gramme doesn’t have much to do with pre­ven­tion, per se,” he said, “but if a sit­u­a­tion should de­mand their in­ter­ven­tion, the po­lice will, as a re­sult of new train­ing re­ceived, be more sen­si­tised to the pre­vail­ing cir­cum­stances. They will be less likely to take ac­tion that com­pounds the sit­u­a­tion, thanks to bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion.”

He elab­o­rated: “When I speak of ed­u­ca­tion I am not nec­es­sar­ily re­fer­ring to in­sti­tu­tion­alised aca­demics. I am speak­ing about sen­si­tis­ing our peo­ple about their roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, tak­ing pride in them­selves, em­pow­er­ment in terms of what they can do to em­power them­selves and en­cour­ag­ing a mind­set of non­re­liance solely on gov­ern­ment for ev­ery­thing.”

Montoute hopes so­ci­ety and the pub­lic play a ma­jor role in this. He an­tic­i­pates vol­un­teers com­ing for­ward to sup­ple­ment gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts, ut­l­itlis­ing the re­sources they have.

His vi­sion, too, is that of­fi­cers fa­cil­i­tate the gen­eral pub­lic in terms of form­ing the nec­es­sary or­gan­i­sa­tions and groups, pro­vid­ing them with sup­port. “In some cases you have very good agen­cies be­ing formed but they do not have the ad­min­is­tra­tive ca­pac­ity. There­fore we can pro­vide sup­port in that area, whether it’s train­ing or ac­tual di­rect in­ter­ven­tion. These are lit­tle mea­sures which can be taken that are not be­yond us in terms of cost and can make a big dif­fer­ence in the lives of peo­ple who are be­ing abused,” he said in clo­sure.

The min­is­ter seeks to put things in place in terms of en­cour­ag­ing the for­ma­tion of NGOs and CDOs to con­trib­ute at a com­mu­nity level. He be­lieves it is cru­cial to reach the peo­ple and hopes to see in­ter­ven­tions be­ing made to pre­vent the blos­som­ing of the crime prob­lem, while nip­ping it the bud.

He added: “Very of­ten what is lack­ing is lead­er­ship and if we can pro­vide lead­er­ship and op­por­tu­ni­ties for oth­ers at a com­mu­nity level to be­come lead­ers, this will con­trib­ute to the res­o­lu­tion of many of our prob­lems.”

In­ter­ested vol­un­teers can re­ceive ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion from of­fi­cers at the Min­istry of So­cial Trans­for­ma­tion.

Act­ing deputy po­lice com­mis­sioner Mil­ton De­sir has wel­comed new of­fi­cial at­ti­tude to ju­ve­nile delin­quency.

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