Probation and Child Protection officers attached to the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services in St. Kitts and Nevis are guided by several legislations that give direction to child protection and juveniles who are in conflict with the law, Acting Director of the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services, Gerald Connor, explained during his appearance on the ‘Working for You’ programme Wednesday.
“…The legislation that really gives us our power as it relates to probation officers is really the Child Justice Act of 2013, which basically saw the repeal of the Juvenile Act,” he said. “So, from since 2013 we have had a new Act that gives a mandate to probation officers as it [relates] to dealing with juveniles in conflict with the law and how the process should be when they are in conflict with the law.”
The acting director added there are two aspects of the Act, namely diversion and prosecution.
“The diversion aspect outlines in the Act where you have the Child Justice Committee, which is a committee that falls within that legislation, that deals with juveniles who are in conflict with the law, but the crime is of such that they can be diverted instead of going through the court process,” he said, adding a perfect example of such case would be one where a child throws a stone and breaks a window. Instead of putting the child through the court process, he or she admits to the wrongdoing and decides to compensate the owner. “If the child does not take responsibility for such, then the matter can proceed through a trial and then we are still a part of that process.
“Then we have the child protection officers which fall within the Children Care and Adoption Act of 2013 and then the Probation and Child Welfare Board, which is basically a creature of that Act and covers the entire department. It is a Board that is mandated to ensure that things are kept up to (date) as it relates to child protection and children in conflict with the law,” he said. “So those are some of the legislations that give us our power.”
He also explained the aim of the Probation Unit, noting there are several stakeholders working together with the organization.
“The Probation Unit basically deals with children who are in conflict with the law, children who are deemed beyond care and control, or at-risk youth,” he said. “We work along closely with the Special Victims Unit… and different agencies that are out there, especially the court system that deals with these juveniles who are in conflict with the law.”