JIS News

Plans are in progress to form an association of Mediators in Westmoreland to better co-ordinate the service being offered by the trained mediators within the parish.
The formation of the association is being spearheaded by the Westmoreland Police Community Relations Department, based at the Savanna-la-Mar Police Station, and should become a reality by early 2006.
In an interview with JIS News, Woman Sergeant Nadine Grant-Brown, head of the Westmoreland Police Community Relations Department and a trained mediator, pointed out that on being approached by the Dispute Resolution Foundation, based in Kingston, the Westmoreland Parish Church had initially offered office space on the church grounds in Savanna-la-Mar, to be used as a Dispute Resolution Centre, but damage to the property by a recent hurricane has caused a delay in taking up the offer.
She said that the church was currently using the space offered while repairs are being carried out on the damaged areas on the property.
Mrs. Grant-Brown explained that having the space for a mediation centre would expedite the formation of the Association. “We are trying to get our mediators together, and we are planning to have our Westmoreland Association of Mediators (WAM). We are hoping that by late January or early February 2006, the offer of the space would still be available and can be taken up,” she said.
“Our aim is to have a roster of all the trained mediators in the parish, so that we can have their services on a daily basis,” she added.
Mrs. Grant-Brown pointed out that mediation sessions were being held at the Police Community Relations office at the Savanna-la-Mar Police Station, and were having quite an impact on the behaviour of people in the area, and on how civil matters are resolved. She said that on average, about 16 cases for mediation are referred by the Petty Sessions Court, the Family Court and the Resident Magistrate’s Court, while from time to time persons with issues to be resolved would walk in to seek the mediation services of the trained police officers in that department.
She pointed out that the sessions have helped in reducing drastically, the number of cases on the Court’s list.
“It has been going very well, based on the feedback that we get from the Court. cases that would normally pile up and be postponed over and over for a date to be tried, they come to mediation and they are resolved,” she said.
“It brings the community together, and it gives the community access and scope to know that in their disputes they have somewhere that they can come and have their disputes mediated, and they leave feeling justified having ownership to the resolution,” Mrs. Grant-Brown said.
She pointed out that with the assistance of trained police officers in the department, more than 90 teachers from various schools across the parish have been trained in mediation practices. She also noted that active mediation groups were operating in the Negril and Grange Hill areas of the parish.