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£1.2m buys training, resources and results – SHG

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An extra £1.2 million from the UK in 2015 has helped fund a series of measures to protect children and care for victims of sex abuse.

St Helena Online asked the island government to detail measures taken to improve safeguarding of vulnerable people since concerns became public. 

They include:

  • A new safeguarding directorate
  • two refurbished family centres for victims
  • extra specialist staff
  • better training for people who work with victims
  • specialised resources for police, social services and judiciary

“The results are already clear for all to see, with more cases reported and investigated and offenders sentenced to significant terms of imprisonment,” says a St Helena Government statement.

“We are also working with our UK partners to obtain expert support to investigate historical cases.”

Child safeguarding training is ongoing for all SHG employees who work with children, and with more being developed for private-sector organisations.

The government has:

  • partnered with the Samaritans in the UK to provide a free,confidential telephone support service.
  • recruited an experienced professional from off-island to lead the new safeguarding directorate, and six full-time, qualified social workers now in post.
  • enhanced neighbourhood policing, with one of the team trained as the schools liaison and youth engagement officer.
  • held regular public awareness campaigns, including on child safety on the internet.
  • set up an Achieving Best Evidence suite with specialist equipment.
  • St Helena Police Service has recruited three officers from the UK with specific experience in investigating current and historic sexual offences. Staff were trained  in November 2015 in conducting serious case reviews.

The government statement says: “Much safeguarding work was underway here before the [Wass] Inquiry was established and has been carried out since the team departed the island – but there is clearly more to be done.

“We have already achieved strong results in improving the ability and capacity of SHG to protect vulnerable individuals and to fully investigate allegations.”

“Of course, it would be naive to think that government can tackle all of this alone.

“Everyone on St Helena has a responsibility to work together to help to protect the vulnerable in our community and anyone with information that would assist the authorities is urged to come forward in confidence.”

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