The Ministry of Home Affairs has said that 55 interventions have been made since it launched the Cops and Faith Community Network (CFCN) over a year ago to deal with youth who come into conflict with the law for the first time, by engaging parents/guardians, police and religious leaders.
The interventions involved 31 female and 24 male juveniles between the ages of 10 and 16 years that were detained for offences including assault, assault causing bodily harm, throwing missiles, simple larceny, wandering, use of indecent language, abusive language and threatening behaviour.
“In all cases the youths were counselled by the religious leaders and following the involvement of parents/guardians, the majority …were warned and sent away,” the ministry said in a press release. Charges were laid in four instances but the matters were dismissed after the victims offered no evidence.
The CFCN pilot project was launched in 10 communities on April 30, 2013 and incorporated the Community Action component of the Citizen Security Programme. This network is another crime prevention initiative aimed at giving a second chance to delinquent youth who come into conflict with the law for the first time and involving minor offences. The communities involved are Sophia, Agricola/McDoom, Plaisance, Buxton/Friendship, Annandale/Lusignan, Angoy’s Avenue, Overwinning/Glasgow/ Edinburgh, Port Mourant, Rose Hall and Kilkoy/Chesney/Fyrish.
The CFCN aims to foster peace and unity within communities by deterring antisocial behaviour among youth such as cruelty to animals, the use of threatening behaviour, damage to property, the use of abusive language while ensuring that corrective measures such as counselling are in place to curb those who err instead of passing them through the penal system.
Other objectives include creating a mechanism for community problem solving which will lead to fostering stronger communities and improved police/community relations. The religious leaders will provide mediatory functions to the youth offenders and will avail themselves to mentor them as a pre-emptive intervention to the New Opportunity Corps. They will also provide chaplaincy and counselling to law enforcement officers who may require such services.
An assessment of the CFCN is currently being conducted with a view to determining whether it should be extended to other communities throughout policing divisions.