• Feature
    Director of the Victim Services Division, Ministry of Justice, Osbourne Bailey, speaking in a recent JIS interview at his Kingston Office.
    Photo: Mark Bell

    Story Highlights

    • The Ministry of Justice remains committed to instituting safeguards that ensure that vulnerable victims of crime can confidently participate in court proceedings.
    • Director of the Ministry’s Victim Services Division (VSD), Osbourne Bailey, tells JIS News that when assessing victims and vulnerability, it is essential to explore issues such as power differentials and proximity to violence, as these can also contribute to persons feeling vulnerable.
    • He points out that the Division approaches victim vulnerability from various angles through the provision of individual and group counselling, psychological screening, victim mobilisation, and ‘play therapy’ for children.

    The Ministry of Justice remains committed to instituting safeguards that ensure that vulnerable victims of crime can confidently participate in court proceedings.

    Director of the Ministry’s Victim Services Division (VSD), Osbourne Bailey, tells JIS News that when assessing victims and vulnerability, it is essential to explore issues such as power differentials and proximity to violence, as these can also contribute to persons feeling vulnerable.

    He points out that the Division approaches victim vulnerability from various angles through the provision of individual and group counselling, psychological screening, victim mobilisation, and ‘play therapy’ for children.

    “We also provide crisis intervention for vulnerable victims. Sometimes the victims can’t come to us… so we visit them in their setting,” Mr. Bailey adds.

    The West Kingston Satellite Counselling Facility is one of the key channels for providing interventions.

    The community-based facility provides counselling and trauma support services for individuals, families and groups in West Kingston.

    One of the Division’s more popular initiatives is the Special Intervention Project for Schools (SIPS).

    Its engagements provide therapy for at-risk children, aged six to 18, in inner-city schools. These children are identified as being emotionally disturbed and suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression.

    Mr. Bailey notes that the court and VSD play an important role in familiarising vulnerable victims with the judicial process.

    “Without interfering with the testimony process, we provide an orientation for victims. You can understand that the whole matter of vulnerability requires a certain amount of advocacy and community sensitisation,” he shares.

    Mr Bailey explains that such sensitisation and advocacy help victims to realise that they do not cause crimes to be committed against themselves, regardless of how they dress or look. He further emphasised that the absence of self-blame is conducive to victims seeking justice through the court.

    “Some [victims] are reluctant to participate in court, not because they are not interested, but because they feel overwhelmed by the awesome role they have to play for a length of time for justice to be served,” Mr. Bailey notes.

    He adds that “regardless of how small the country is and the Government’s strong efforts to fight crime, victims still exist”.

    “They are our friends, church members and work colleagues and many of them have ongoing difficulties. The wounds caused by crime may not be physical… so there is no telling when they have healed. So we need to be mindful of each other during difficulties,” Mr. Bailey urges.

    He points out that the Justice Ministry allows for eligible citizens to be a part of the victim and witness care process through volunteerism.

    Interested persons may visit the Ministry’s website or contact the Ministry to find out how they can provide support.