St Helena and other Overseas Territories are being offered help to deal with criminals who need specialist treatment to manage their behaviour – including sex offenders.
The UK government’s White Paper says smaller territories often lack facilities to treat people who need such help, though it does not say whether this is the case for St Helena.
St Helena Online has been told there is disturbing anecdotal evidence of domestic violence on the island – one of the issues being raised by a new group on the island called Women In St Helena (WISH).
No current figures are available, but former governor David Smallman wrote about the problems in his 2002 book, Quincentenary:
“There is no overt racism, there are no muggings, or murders, no hard drugs or organised crime…. Nonetheless, drink-related crimes, battered wives and domestic violence, even incest, are not uncommon. The local jail customarily has a majority of its inmates (an average of between 4 – 6 convicted prisoners) serving sentences for sex offences.”
Weekly police reports often give details of low-level offences involving drink or violence, and the rate for drink-driving arrests appears far higher than in the UK.
The White Paper speaks of the benefits to finding alternatives to sending criminals to prison – for some crimes.
“For small islands with relatively small prison populations, custody is an expensive, and sometimes impractical way to deal with offenders,” it says.
“Non-custodial sentences can offer an alternative and can have dramatic effects on reducing reoffending rates, when compared to prison for certain types of offenders.
“Building effective probation services to support offenders in the community is a key aspect to this work. Several Territories now have probation services in place and some good results are being achieved.”
St Helena Government has been asked what work it is doing in this area for a possible article in the near future.