Growing concern about sex offending on St Helena – especially against children – could lead to the island being given extra money to confront the issue.
And a coded warning of a possible increase in attacks appears to be given in the report on the latest aid mission to St Helena.
It says: “Despite some improvement in this area in recent years, the increase in development activity may provide further challenges about which St Helena Government will need to be vigilant.”
The wording reflects concerns that have been voiced as the airport construction project brings overseas workers and returning Saints to the island.
Reports have been received in London and Jamestown of a deep-rooted culture of child abuse – though they did not say whether it was widespread.
On 28 January 2013, a woman was arrested on suspicion of child abuse in the St Paul’s area. She was charged, and released on conditional bail with help of a Bondsman at a special court hearing.
In July 2012, St Helena Government revealed that it was considering setting up a sex offenders’ register as part of its efforts to crack down on sex crimes, alongside counselling to help offenders avoid committing further crimes.
The disclosure came after the UK Government’s White Paper on overseas territories offered to help provide specialist treatment for sex criminals.
It said small territories often lacked facilities to treat people who needed such help.
The island’s human rights plan also called for more action.
At the time, prison visitor Catherine Turner wrote of the despair she witnessed.
“For the prison officers,” she said, “it is demoralizing knowing that they could do the very best job, but it would have little effect because in a few years’ time another two-year-old will be abused.
“But for the one person who knows that he will spend five years in jail and then is almost 100% likely to re-offend within a year of release, it is in effect a life sentence.
“While it is easy to blame the perpetrators, often they themselves have been victims all their lives.”
Another expert has told St Helena Online that it can take six generations to erase the effects of past child abuse.
The report on the annual UK aid negotiations on St Helena says: “We welcome the recent appointment of a Champion for Children and look forward to supporting further child safeguarding work in 2013/14.
“We also look forward to the Department of Education and Employment review of child safeguarding procedures later this year and we would be willing to agree technical assistance to fund sex offender training needs.”
The report also noted improvements in help for vulnerable people.
“We are pleased to see that the post of Senior Social Services Manager,
agreed at last year’s DAPM, has recently been taken up and hope to see the
Social Work Trainer post taken up shortly.
“We look forward to the development of a Strategic Framework for Integrated Social Services to support vulnerable individuals and families, with a focus on disability (including integrating the disabled into the workplace) elderly care, learning difficulties, safeguarding of children and other vulnerable groups.”