Island works to end heartache caused by sex offenders

Special efforts are being made to help sex offenders on St Helena avoid committing further crimes when they are released from prison.

A sex offenders register could also be set up as part of changes to the criminal code, according to the island’s human rights plan.

Last week the British government offered to help its overseas territories provide the treatment that such criminals need.

That news has been welcomed by prison visitor and human rights facilitator Catherine Turner.

She said: “I get to see the heartache of the survivors and their families, frustration of the prison staff and police who do not want to release a prisoner who is likely to re-offend, and the fear of prisoners who know that they will probably re-offend if not treated.

“The rehabilitation of sex offenders is a high priority in the St Helena Human Rights Action Plan.”

Two convicted sex offenders are currently serving prison terms at HMP Jamestown. There were four when the human rights plan was revised in late 2011. Three of them had been convicted of offences against children, and one of them was serving his third sentence.

The police directorate is working with health and social welfare colleagues to develop treatment options for sex criminals.

A statement said: “We are receiving expert advice from the UK and we will be discussing the specifics of our options with the FCO prisons advisor when he visits in September 2012.

“Clearly we would be looking to offer suitable treatment to reduce the likelihood of  any prisoner re-offending, but this is a complicated and expensive area that requires careful management and care, including a duty of care for those staff delivering the treatment.”

As Catherine Turner says in a separate article for St Helena Online, UK prison staff who spend time with sex offenders have to be given counselling themselves, to help them cope with distressing stories.

The UK government White Paper released at the end of June 2012 acknowledged the extra challenges of dealing with prisoners with high needs in small island prisons.

“Facilities to promote rehabilitation and treat offenders who require specialist treatment, such as those convicted of sexual offences, are often not available,” it said. It promised to support moves to a prison system that helps prisoners overcome such problems, by sharing expertise.

St Helena Government is already completely rewriting the island’s Criminal Procedure Ordinance, which sets out how offenders are dealt with. Policy is still being formulated and a draft bill is not ready to be made public.

SEE ALSO:
UK offers to help reduce offenders’ risk to island society
No place to hide: why tackling sex crimes is more challenging on a small island
The lifelong cost of child abuse – and a plan of action

LINK:
St Helena Police Directorate
Criminal Procedure Ordinance (.pdf file)
Childline – UK charity offering young people support by phone and email

This entry was posted in Health, Law, News, UK overseas territories, White Paper and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply