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Police unit seeks additional staff to probe sex abuse

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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THE Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) says at least 35 additional police investigators are needed to properly investigate child and sexual abuse cases across the island.

Superintendent Charmine Shand, head of CISOCA, made the disclosure yesterday following the donation of $1 million to the agency by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) at their offices on Ardenne Road in Kingston.

According to CISOCA, up to July 31 this year, it received 598 reports of sexual abuse, 327 of them involving sexual intercourse with children under 16. It is an increase over last year when there were 296 reports of sexual intercourse with a person under 16.

“With the workload at CISOCA we need an increase in staff. Presently, at CISOCA, it is one superintendent and 65 other ranks, and we see, on an average day, four to five cases,” said Shand.

She said because of the increase in the reporting of sexual abuses cases, the workload is heavy, and staff members are overwhelmed. “Dealing with victims is something that you have to be passionate [about]; you have to show compassion, you have to have empathy and, based on the nature of the work that we have to do, CISOCA really needs additional staff members,” Superintendent Shand told the Jamaica Observer after the presentation.

Shand, while noting that the agency's only aim is to secure convictions, said she had requested additional manpower to ensure that the victims are satisfied following their reports.

“Once the matter is reported to us we are expected to investigate thoroughly, we expect to complete these cases, and we are expect to secure convictions at court. We only want to ensure that we have enough staff to adequately deal with these cases,” she continued.

According to the Sexual Offences Act, a person in authority who has sexual intercourse with a person under 16 can be given up to life imprisonment upon conviction.

Shand, who was obviously grateful for the donation yesterday, said it will enhance the agency's objective to combat child abuse.

“I had a meeting with my managers and staff and we were looking at 2018 what our major project will be, and we looked at public education because we realise that a lot of parents and guardians are not really educated as it relates to sexual offences,” Shand said, adding that the intention is to conduct an islandwide sensitisation tour.

“We need to go to schools, we need to talk to parents about what is happening in their homes and, therefore, this contribution is going to assist us,” said the police superintendent.

JHTA President Omar Robinson told the Observer that child sex abuse is an area that that needs to be given more attention by the society.

“It is an area that is under-resourced; they (children) don't have a voice most times and we need more of these cases to be reported so that the proper investigations can be made,” Robinson said.

Like Shand, Robinson said there is a need for public education.




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