The Ministry of Justice restorative justice centres across the island have resumed full operations.
In April, the centres scaled down operations and cancelled sensitisation sessions as a result of reduced intake of cases, owing to the suspension of parish court sittings due to the coroanvirus (COVID-19).
Coordinator of the Restorative Justice Programme, Andriene Lindsay, told JIS News that the centres are now fully open with numerous health and safety protocols in place to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
“Before, we had part-time cleaners, who worked three days a week for four hours, but now all of our cleaners are full-time. They work five days a week from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. We have all our high-touch areas being sanitised every one to two hours. These include light switches, door handles and door knobs,” she said.
In addition, she noted that “bathrooms are cleaned every hour and all other surfaces are cleaned every one to two hours. So, for example, when persons come into reception and oftentimes lean over the front counter, that would be sanitised every hour”. She said, further, that most of the upholstered furniture have been replaced with plastic chairs that can be wiped, while chairs with fabric are cleaned on a regular basis.
Ms. Lindsay told JIS News that restorative justice conferences have also resumed.
“We have safe conferences in the centres and for that we have social distancing in place. Also, whereas before we had the ‘talking piece’ being passed from person to person, that has been suspended until further notice.
“In addition, any conference that consists of more than six persons, we look at those on a case-by-case basis, just to make sure we assess that the space is big enough to facilitate those people,” she informed.
Ms. Lindsay noted that all the centres were asked to complete risk assessments in order to identify gaps, and these assessments revealed the need for sanitisation products.
“So, for example, such things as hand sanitiser, anything that the centres were short on, we ensured they had. We have issued the centres with masks, so even if the client comes into the centre and happens to forget their masks, we issue the client with one so we don’t have to turn anybody away. We also have disposable gloves, bleach and alcohol in the centres,” she said.
Ms. Lindsay noted that forehead temperature guns have been ordered and should arrive within the next month.
Restorative justice, an alternative dispute resolution method, can be accessed through referrals from the police and the courts as well as self-referrals by persons involved in conflicts.