Gage-Gray wants CISOCA offices to have all services under one roofWednesday, July 28, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
CHIEF executive officer of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Rosalee Gage-Gray has called for the Corporate Area model of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) to be replicated nationwide, or at least regionally, to further ease the trauma on victims of sexual offences.
CISOCA's Ruthven Road Corporate Area offices operates using a multi-agency approach with the CPFSA, the police, and the medical services under one roof, representing virtually all the aspects needed for investigating sex offences.
Addressing justices of the peace during the second in a series of virtual sensitisation session on child abuse recently, Gage-Gray said: “We believe that CISOCA should be expanded. As it is at Ruthven Road, it's a one-stop shop, we think that's a best practice that should be replicated right across the country, or at least regionally.”
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer in a subsequent interview the CPFSA head said replicating the Ruthven Road model would mean improvement on several levels.
“...At Ruthven... there are police officers, a doctor either there or on call, and CPFSA social workers as well. So once a child comes in [that] child is interviewed by everybody there and can be medically examined at the same place. The police can go and pick up the perpetrator so the child can go home without being remanded in a place of safety,” Gage-Gray explained.
This chain of events, she said, is not what obtains in other parts of the island, hence her call.
“In the other parishes, when there is a case, although our officers can be called and we have officers in St James, the Western belt and Manchester that work directly with the CISOCA teams there, what happens is they have to go to the public hospital and they have to wait sometimes hours to get the child examined. And because they have to use the rape kits and stuff the police have to be there for the evidence to be collected, so our officers and the police have to wait. If we have a similar centre regionally or so then those officers could fill it,” the CPFSA head said.
Another challenge, she said, was the fact that not every police station has a CISOCA officer on location, an issue a regional presence would address.
“The CISOCA officers are not in every police station, so you might have a police [post] up in the hills of Alexandria and a report is made at the station there, what it means is that the parent or whomever would have to be sent to the CISOCA office in Ocho Rios or St Ann's Bay,” she explained.
She further pointed out that, at present, CISOCA officers islandwide do not report directly to the Ruthven Road location, another gap that needs to be addressed.
“They report to the ground commander in their respective areas, and I know CISOCA and others have similar sentiments. We have met with the high command and expressed that as well, that we want a coordinated unit...so you could have training, all of the best practices, and so on,” she noted.
CISOCA was established in the Jamaican Constabulary Force in response to the need for police sensitivity to victims of sexual assault, for improved confidentiality in taking of reports from victims in order to allow for the speedy and effective investigation of sexual offences.
It seeks to create an atmosphere which encourages victims to report incidents of sexual offences, and to assist in enhancing the rehabilitation of victims through counselling and therapy.
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