Persons, who knowingly report false information regarding the well-being of children to the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), could face criminal sanctions.
The warning came from OCR Registrar, Greig Smith, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at enhancing the Ananda Alert System, held at the Courtleigh Hotel and Suites, New Kingston on Tuesday, May 14.
Mr. Smith informed that apart from the Child Care and Protection Act, there are various other legislation, which can be enforced to deal with persons, who make prank calls to the agency.
Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, who is an attorney by profession, informed that such individuals can be charged for creating public mischief.
“If you knowingly make a false report, that is in fact a criminal offence and can be punishable under the law and even outside of the Child Care and Protection Act at common-law, there is the Offence of Public Mischief (for) burdening the state’s resources, knowing that it is in fact just mischief,” she said.
The MoU, which was signed by various stakeholders is aimed at raising public awareness concerning missing children and also seeks to strengthen rescue, recovery and intervention measures that are vital to the welfare of child victims and their families.
Signatories included representatives from the Child Development Agency (CDA); Jamaica Information Service (JIS); Office of the Children’s Advocate; Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC); Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ); and Ministries of Youth and Culture, Health, Education, Justice, Local Government and Community Development, National Security, and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
Ananda Alert is a nationwide system designed to ensure a speedy and safe recovery of a child in the unfortunate event that he/she is missing or abducted.
It involves the mobilisation of stakeholders to get the message of a missing child into the public domain the moment the matter is reported to the police.
The aim is to create a rapid response from law enforcement and communities to help bring the matter to public attention with the aim of increasing the chances of a safe recovery and return to family, guardian and/or place of safety.
The management of the Ananda Alert System, previously the ambit of the Local Government Ministry, was transferred to the OCR, which is an agency of the Ministry of Youth and Culture, on March 1, 2013.
Contact: Chris Patterson