Victims of crimes are being encouraged to utilise the Ministry of Justice’s Victim Services Division (VSD).
The VSD provides opportunities for victims of crimes to get healing through the use of special techniques, tailored to the needs of vulnerable groups such as children. Head of the VSD, Osbourne Bailey, shared that the unit develops its own tools for use when interacting with victims of crime.
“We have developed unique tools from our experiences, including a tool to screen children in schools who are showing signs of anxiety and depression. Oftentimes, these things are the result of some trend that may be crime-related, so we’re able to screen them,” Mr. Bailey said.
He pointed out that the Division also has a Court Orientation Programme, which gets persons acquainted with the court system.“We take them through an orientation; we are not preparing or interfering with the evidence. We are basically just orienting them with what happens in the Court and what they are required to do, so that they understand the process,” Mr. Bailey explained.
He said that victims who have accessed the services of the Division islandwide have been very receptive of the guidance and support they have received from counsellors. “I would say 95 per cent of the persons I have seen, express that they want to be here. They have a need and so somebody is there offering a helping hand,” Mr. Bailey noted.
Counsellor with the VSD, Simone Sharrier, said victims of crimes or those affected by crimes can now feel comfortable that they have an avenue to express their feelings and get help.
“It’s a safe haven, somewhere they come and not feel judged. They are free to share how they are feeling, even though it might not be what society or how society thinks they should be feeling. But it’s safe to just be yourself to release with somebody who genuinely cares, a unit that cares,” Ms. Sharrier said.
Since its inception in 1998, the VSD has recorded an average of 5,000 new victims every year, while continuing to provide support by following up with 100,000 victims over the more than 20 years of the life of the programme.
Over the last 10 years, the VSD has also provided special intervention programmes for at least 400 children annually. The services of the VSD help citizens cope with the psychosocial challenges that may be faced by a victim of a crime.
For more information on the offerings of the VSD, persons can call (876) 906 4923.