Jamaica News: After receiving the highest mark of 90.08 per cent in the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigators’ Training Course, Detective Constable Sharline Griffiths has pledged to use the lessons learnt to help victims of such crimes.
“For me, I will use the techniques to really get to the root in helping the victim,” she told JIS News.
She said that often victims are not forthcoming with certain information. but noted that “by persevering a little more, coupled with what was taught, you will be able to go deeper”.
Detective Constable Griffiths, who is an investigator at the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), was among 24 persons who successfully completed the course offered by the National Police College of Jamaica (NPCJ).
The four-week training programme was designed to meet the specialist work requirement of the investigators.
Among other things, it served to widen their knowledge of sexual violence; strengthen understanding of the laws governing the offences; and improve their investigative skills and competencies.
Detective Constable Griffiths, who spoke to JIS News at the graduation ceremony at the NPCJ recently, said that among the areas covered was how to properly complete a case file with all the necessary impactful evidence in place to punish sexual offenders.
“Once a case file is properly put together and you have evidence properly collected with DNA, you’ll find that you will be successful in the courts, and convictions will be secured,” she pointed out.
Other topics covered included DNA handling, analysis and examination of emotions, interviewing reluctant witnesses, crime scene management, exhibit handling, biometrics, sexual offences investigations, rape trauma syndrome, legal and ethical issues and committal proceedings.
Lessons were delivered using a range of teaching methods that catered to different learning styles such as lectures, which were accompanied by PowerPoint presentations; discussions; brainstorming; role play; and cooperative learning.
Practical exercises were used in the delivery of certain topics such as case file preparation, court room demeanour and testimony.
Exercises involving the courts were supervised by personnel from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and attorneys.
Detective Constable Griffiths told JIS News that at the end of the training, the participants were able to reach consensus on how investigations should be conducted, and noted that the processes will be applied in the field.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, is optimistic that with the training received, the investigators will make a difference in investigating, interrogating and apprehending perpetrators of crimes against women and children.
She noted that sexual offences and child abuse are forms of gender-based violence, and despite efforts to eliminate and address these issues, arrests and convictions remain low.
“This must be changed, and you are poised to become the agents of change,” she said in a speech read by Acting Senior Director at the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Sharon Robinson, at the graduation ceremony.
Ms. Grange told the graduates it is paramount that they address cases of sexual offences in a sensitive manner, and, with the newly acquired skills, they are expected to provide greater support and hope to victims of various sex crimes.
“You are now better equipped to deliver supportive and other necessary services, to collect critical forensic evidence, some of which is unique to crimes of a sexual nature, to ensure due process for defendants (thereby) resolving cases swiftly, fairly and effectively,” she pointed out.
Ms. Grange argued that investigators are most effective when they are guided by specialised knowledge, are sensitive to the needs and interests of victims, and are committed to multidisciplinary collaboration.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent of Police, Wayne Josephs, who is attached to the Criminal Investigation Branch, said that the DNA Evidence Act is an important piece of legislation in investigating sexual offences and child abuse.
“It is the best thing to happen to CISOCA,” he noted, adding that it will be useful in solving cases that have gone cold.
“CISOCA cases are mainly those (involving) bodily fluids. For those persons already behind bars (who have committed sexual offences), they might come up on the radar, because the science and the technology doesn’t lie,” he pointed out.
The DNA Evidence Act stipulates the compulsory extraction of DNA samples from suspects and convicted persons; outlines the protocol for collecting, retaining and preserving these in addition to the retention or destruction of DNA profiles; and outlines penalties for breaches of the Act.
These breaches include falsifying profiles, swapping DNA samples or profiles with intent to deceive, and tampering with containers or packages bearing profile samples.
Source: JIS News