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Police, judge lauded for supporting child diversion in Portland


THE Portland police and Children’s Court judge are being commended for their efforts in supporting the National Child Diversion Programme.

Child diversion officer for Portland Simmonette Rose Daniels said that as diversion partners, the court and police force play a key role in directing child offenders to the programme and keeping them out of the formal criminal justice system.

“The Child Diversion Office accepts referrals from our partners and makes contacts to send referrals to schedule intake and assessment, after which the treatment plans are developed in collaboration with our parish child diversion committees, mentors and service providers. The relationship with our referral sources has been a good one thus far, as they remain critical players in the justice system,” Daniels told a recent JIS think tank.

She noted that both the police and the court “have realised that child diversion can be used to access and uphold child rights and that at all times, the best interest of the child is to be taken into consideration”.

“Both referral sources have been extremely supportive and have been working hard to facilitate the process. I am grateful for the enthusiasm that I have received in the parish from our Children’s Court judge and the various police officers that I have been working with,” Daniels stressed.

She said that the support from the police extends beyond making referrals to the programme.

“They participate in sensitisation sessions, sit on our committees, give us support in the various communities and aid in youth club activities. Police officers are mentors as well. I have quite a few in my parish and they have been doing exceptionally well with the children. The children do report that they have given them immense support, even taking time off of their work to have them register with the HEART/NSTA Trust. The feedback has been so positive, and I am so glad that they are part of the mentorship programme,” Daniels noted.

As at December 31, 2020, Portland had 42 referrals to the programme.

Daniels also commends her team for their commitment to ensuring the success of the programme and the children referred for treatment.

“We attend court, carry out sensitisation sessions, visit the police stations and carry out home and community visits. In addition, we work with other partners such as the National Council on Drug Abuse officer, women’s centre counsellors, our contracted psychologists and guidance counsellors that are assigned to each case,” she said.

There are 13 child diversion offices set up across the island.

– JIS

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