The Justice Ministry has announced plans to roll out Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Method Training for officers in the police force.
This move is aligned with the Justice Ministry’s efforts at promoting the use of ADR methods for conflict resolution outside of the courts.
Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, who provided details at yesterday’s (December 2) fourth Access Justice Live Virtual Town Hall, said while there are some police officers that refer matters to restorative justice and mediation, the numbers can be improved.
“Many [police officers] simply deal with the court. Less than two weeks ago, we took a team for the second time to meet with the High Command of the police force. On that occasion, we spoke about restorative justice and that we need more police men who see and anticipate the problems, to refer the parties to the restorative justice setting. The High Command was so keen, they asked how could they get trainers, and for senior police officers to be trained, so that all of the police force could be trained in restorative justice,” Mr. Chuck said.
Restorative justice represents one of several ADR methods available to Jamaicans, which also include mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
The Minister also noted that during sessions with police officers, one of the most popular questions was when will more persons be exposed to the training.
“[As] I explained to the Commissioner, we are going to be rolling out many [training sessions] so that every single senior police officer or perhaps right down to every constable understands the concepts. They will know that you don’t have to drag everyone into the court; you can deal with it by referring the matter to a restorative justice facilitator, to a child diversion officer and other arbitration or [forms of] alternative dispute resolution. So, it has started but much more needs to be done and it will be improved in time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that having police officers adequately trained in ADR will help to build the relationship between civilians and the police force.
Mr. Chuck reiterated that “there is no doubt that we are never going to solve crime unless there is trust and confidence of the citizens in the police”.
“Regrettably, it is too low. We need the police to be able to work closer in partnership with the people and the citizens of the communities for us to be able to say that the citizens in every community trust and have confidence in the police. Without that partnership, regrettably, crime and violence will not be solved. Every citizen or most citizens in a community know who is committing a crime, but they are reluctant to tell the police. Unless they tell the police, crimes will never be solved,” Mr. Chuck said.
The virtual Town Hall was the final staging in the series for this year. They were executed through support from the European Union (EU) and the National Integrity Action (NIA).