St Helena Online

Tag: domestic violence

New safeguarding boss promises action and support for victims

A new Safeguarding body on St Helena is already reported to be bringing new concerns to light, two months after it was set up to protect people from abuse and violence.

A specialist detective now works solely on sex and domestic violence cases, and two new protection officers are helping to improve the management of offenders.

Greg Hall arrived on the island on 29 January 2015 to start work as head of the new Safeguarding Directive, which aims to protect vulnerable children and adults.

Part of his role is to make sure the police, judiciary, health and education services work well together, with others.

In November 2014, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said the relationship between police and social services on St Helena had broken down.

A statement from The Castle in Jamestown said better assessment of cases was “already bringing about increased confidence in safeguarding… and a rise in referrals”. Historic cases were also being dealt with.

“Safeguarding on St Helena is rightly a high priority for St Helena Government,” said the statement.

“The recruitment of experienced officers to key posts… has greatly improved the capacity of government to protect individuals.

“For example, an experienced child protection and sexual offence detective now works exclusively on allegations of sexual offences and child abuse.”

Greg Hall said: “For people who feel vulnerable it can be difficult to talk about personal issues or raise concerns. Our staff understand this and are committed to listening and giving options, and we will continue to develop avenues for support.”

Training is being given to social care officers and people working with children.

The government said it was also implementing recommendations from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which had alleged failures to deal with abuse.

Money is being sought to recruit two more social workers, set up a family centre and a victim support service, and employ more staff in the mental health service.

United Nations cash provides a refuge from violence

A new refuge is to be set up for domestic abuse victims on St Helena, thanks to a windfall from the United Nations.

A building from the government’s housing stock is to be used to provide a place of safety for victims and, if needed, their children.

Its location will not be made public.

Executive councillors agreed to the project on 3 February 2015 after hearing how the island had been awarded £40,000 from surplus funds by the UN.

An initial request for funds did not fully meet the requirements of the UN Development Project scheme, but the island was given a share of money not taken up by other nations.

Incest and violence ‘not uncommon’ says 1990s governor

smallman-on-crime-800
Governor Smallman referred to sex crimes in his 2003 book. Click for larger image

Problems with sex abuse and domestic violence on St Helena were acknowledged in print by a former governor more than a decade before the issue became an international scandal.

David Smallman’s brief mention of the issue shows action was being taken against at least some offenders – but it does not undermine allegations made in a Daily Telegraph investigation.

The newspaper said the UK was warned in 2002 that the island did not have the resources to protect children, but took too little action. Ivy Ellick OBE told journalist Tom Rowley that when cases were taken to court, they were often dismissed because they had not been handled properly.

David Smallman's book, Quincentenary
David Smallman’s book, Quincentenary

Mr Smallman referred to the problem in the introduction to his 2003 book, Quincentenary, marking 500 years since the island’s discovery.

He said strong family values and sense of community had grown up, creating “a society in which there is no overt racism, there are no muggings, or murders, no hard drugs or organised crime, and where it is still the rule rather than the exception to leave one’s house and car unlocked.

“Nonetheless,” he continued, “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 four and six convicted prisoners) serving sentences for sex offences…”

The passage confirms that action was taken against sex offenders, despite an alleged culture of acceptance of sexual abuses.

But the Telegraph, like the Lucy Faithfull Foundation before it, was concerned with allegations that “establishment” figures went unpunished and that UK officials failed to deal with the issue adequately.

St Helena Government has made child safeguarding a high priority in response to the Lucy Faithfull report, launching a number of initiatives to support victims and prevent offending. Frequent action in cases of domestic violence has been reported by police.

David Smallman was governor of St Helena from 1995 to 1999. The fly leaf of his book says he was not always popular in London because of the way he championed the island’s cause.

The book says his legacy includes a strengthening of the island’s legal and judicial system, which included bringing independent legal representation to Jamestown through the creation of the public solicitor’s office.

SEE ALSO:
Ivy exposes years of inaction over St Helena sex abuseAbuse: don’t drag down the good with the bad, says blogger

 

April’s degree will help solve island’s social ills

April Lawrence BSc
April Lawrence BSc

University graduate April Lawrence will be returning to Half Tree Hollow in October 2013 with skills that could be used to tackle social problems on St Helena.

She has been awarded a strong 2:1 degree in Sociology and Psychology by the University of Portsmouth.

Her studies included modules on childhood, youth and social problems, crime and social control, risk and society, neighbourhoods and communities, and violence.

St Helena Online has been told there is disturbing anecdotal evidence of domestic violence on the island, and a campaign has been running alongside an initiative by police that has led to a number of arrests.

Prison sentences have been passed for child sex offences on a number of occasions.

St Helena Government has confirmed that April’s skills will be of special value in tackling social issues on the island.

Alongside her studies, April worked as a volunteer, supervising contact between parents and children who rarely saw each other.

The was also a trained mentor for Motiv8, an organisation that helps young people make better life choices.

Kedell Worboys, the island’s UK representative, said: “April has been a hard-working and dedicated student and thoroughly deserves her award.

“She will make a positive contribution to the social services on St Helena and is a shining example to other young people on the Island.” 

April will graduate from the University of Portsmouth on 23 July 2013, then return to St Helena in October.

SEE ALSO: 
Domestic violence story archive
UK offers to help reduce offenders’ risk to society

Sandy Bay: man arrested for domestic assault

Police have reported a domestic violence incident that took place only days before a weekend of events to highlight the issue on St Helena.

It happened on Monday 19 November 2012 in the Sandy Bay area.

Detective Sergeant Clarence Roberts said: “One male person was arrested for causing a breach of the peace and detained in custody.  He was later interviewed and suitably dealt with for common assault and harassment.”

Police adopted a new policy for dealing with domestic violence on 25 November 2011 – on the same day as islanders joined world-wide events to help combat attacks in the home.

SEE ALSO: 
Saints say No to violence at home
Crime archive 

Saints say No to violence at home

Growing numbers of people on St Helena are seeking help after being attacked in their homes.

And on the last weekend of November 2012, men and women on the island were asked to wear white ribbons to show their opposition to domestic violence.

A coffee morning and a vigil were organised to help spell out the message to abusers – and let victims know they need not suffer in silence.

Police reported seven incidents of domestic violence over a three-month period from late August 2012, and six people were arrested – including one women. Some were refused bail.

A new push to reduce violence in the home began when the international White Ribbon Day was marked on St Helena for the first time.

St Helena Police adopted a policy on dealing with reported cases the same day, on 25 November 2011.

Christine Coleman, of the social services department, said: “From that, people are being made more aware, and now I feel people are not afraid to come forward and speak up when they feel they are being treated by their partner in a way that they feel is unfair or violent.

“By wearing the white ribbon, you are saying you won’t take part in violence yourself, but also you won’t condone it in your friends.

“It is about raising awareness, especially for males to be aware: a pledge where you are giving that support, acknowledging the fact that violence against women needs to be reduced.

“We have had more referrals coming in regarding domestic violence.”

Catherine Turner, the islands human rights co-ordinator, said: “Violence against women is not just domestic and it doesn’t have to be physical. It can be anything from name-calling right through to rape.

“It can be trying to persuade you to do something you don’t want to do, calling you names in public, not allowing you to go out – that happens a lot, in teenage relationships particularly, and if it starts there it becomes slamming violence later in life.

“It happens, but we don’t see it in the street: it happens in the home.

“A lot of women have told us it’s all right for their husband to force them to have sex. Well it’s not: that is rape.”

She said that in the UK, men had helped to get the message across that beating wives and girlfriends was not manly behaviour.

Christine said victims who reported incidents to social workers would be given support and advised that they could complain to the police, who had a procedure in place for dealing with abuse.”

Leaflets, advice and books are available in the human rights office, next to Marlene Yon’s shop in Main Street, Jamestown.

Domestic violence on St Helena: six arrests in three months

St Helena Police dealt with seven incidents of domestic violence in the space of three months between August and November 2012. One of the people arrested was a woman. The cases have all been detailed in the island’s weekly crime bulletin. 

Reports by DETECTIVE SERGEANT CLARENCE ROBERTS

Monday 13 August 2012: During the early hours, police attended a domestic violence incident in Half Tree Hollow which resulted in one female being arrested on reasonable suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and detained in custody. Investigations continue at this time.

Friday 31 August 2012: On the evening of Friday, police attended a report of domestic violence and criminal damage in the Longwood area. One male was arrested and subsequently charged to court for the offences.

Tuesday 11 September 2012: police were informed that a domestic violence incident had occurred on Monday evening in the Half Tree Hollow area.  Police commenced an inquiry and later that morning a male person was arrested for reasonable suspicion of assault and detained in custody and subsequently charged, but bail was refused.  A Special Court convened on Wednesday morning and the person was remanded in custody until Thursday 20 September.

Saturday 13 October 2012: On Saturday night police were called to a domestic violence incident in the Half Tree Hollow area where one male person was arrested for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and detained in custody.  After being interviewed, he was released on conditional bail pending further investigations.

Also on Saturday police attended another domestic dispute in the Jamestown area and one person was warned for causing a breach of the peace.

Saturday 27 October 2012: On Saturday afternoon police responded to a domestic violence incident in the Half Tree Hollow which resulted in a male person being arrested on suspicion of assault and detained in custody.  He was later interviewed, charged with common assault and bail was refused.  A Special Court convened this morning and he was released on conditional bail to return to Court in due course.

Monday 12 November 2012: On Monday evening police received a report of domestic violence incident in the Half Tree Hollow area which resulted in one male person being arrested on reasonable suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and detained in custody.  He was later interviewed and charged and bail was refused.  On Wednesday a Special Court convened and he was remanded in custody until today.

SEE ALSO:
St Helena crime archive

Jamestown vandal strikes in daylight

Police are investigating after a car was vandalised in the museum car park in Jamestown on 31 August 2012. The weekly crime report says: “Deliberate scratch damage was caused to all the panels on the nearside of the car, resulting in extensive damage.” The incident happened during the day.

Officers also dealt with an assault in Longwood, an incident of domestic violence and criminal damage in Longwood, criminal damage in Jamestown, and a collision between two vehicles at White Wall. Two injured people were taken to hospital.

Read more: Police update 2 September 2012

UK offers to help reduce offenders’ risk to island society

St Helena’s prison: coping with criminals is expensive for small islands, says UK government (Picture: John Grimshaw)

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.

SEE ALSO:

Prime Minister David Cameron: we’re ambitious for you
White Paper sets out need for openness in government
‘Transparency and scrutiny lead to public trust’ – White Paper

LINK:
Overseas Territories White Paper

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