The National Child Diversion Programme has received a total allocation of $33.36 million in the 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure, which is now before the House of Representatives.
The money will go towards sensitising 240 prescribed professionals on the need to report child sexual abuse cases; solicit Cabinet’s approval and implement the National Child Diversion Policy; establish implementation standards, codes and guidelines for the Child Diversion Programme; develop a case management database for all key stakeholders; and train key personnel of the child diversion committees.
Other targets include: development and implementation of an evaluation system to ensure programme monitoring and compliance; undertake a public education programme on the role and function of the diversion programme; revamp the family court attendance system centre; conduct study tour to other Commonwealth jurisdictions; provide legislative support; develop a sentence matrix; and distribute Children in Court Resource Kits across the island.
Funded by a grant from the United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund, the project, which got underway in April 2012, seeks to deal with children involved in conflicts with the law, outside of formal judicial proceedings.
This will be done through the development and implementation of procedures, structures and programmes that enable them to be dealt with by non-judicial bodies, thereby avoiding the negative effects of formal judicial proceedings and a criminal record.
Under the programme, four children diversion committees and centres will be set up in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA), St. James, St. Catherine and Clarendon.
Some of the achievements to date include the training of policemen, children officers and probation officers, 78 prosecutors and clerks of the court, 68 judges and Resident Magistrates.
In addition, 100 volunteers were trained to deliver court preparatory services to children going to the court, a draft national diversion policy was developed, while four resource kits for the Children in Court Programme were procured and delivered.
The programme is expected to conclude in March 2013.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter