Jamaica Police improve domestic violence response

Jamaica Observer:-The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) enhanced its capacity to deal with domestic violence with the certification of 208 domestic violence counsellors last week.

The 208 counsellors, comprising community-based pastors and JCF volunteer chaplains, received their certificates at a ceremony held at Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church. They were engaged in several intense workshops across the island over the last three months designed to equip them with the capacity to address the many and varied issues associated with domestic violence.

In a passionate address to the counsellors, deputy commissioner of police (DCP) in charge of the JCF’s administrative portfolio Novelette Grant said the training by the Ministry of National Security and the JCF was a solution-based initiative specifically designed to deal with the thorny issue of domestic violence.

“We all know the problem of domestic violence very well. We have been talking about it for years on end, and we also know the chilling effects domestic violence has had on Jamaica.

“This training of 208 counsellors is a major step forward by the JCF in finding a solution to the problem of domestic violence. So, it’s about identifying the problem, which we know already, and now finding a solution.

“All of you counsellors have been given the tools to mediate conflicts from both sides — the abused and the abuser — and I am confident that you, the counsellors, will have a telling impact in the communities in which you work and conduct your activities,” DCP Grant stated.

She said that the training done by the counsellors allows for the ‘help-seeking’ process to reach those who carried out the abuse, which she noted is important to not just intimate partner violence, but violence within familial relationships.

The perpetrator cannot only be treated from a legal perspective because it is the psychological need for power and control why you have issues of domestic violence,” she said.

“Even if the perpetrator is placed in jail, there still needs to be a way for the police to address the psychological underpinning for power and control that gives rise to the need for abuse. Unless that is addressed, then only part of the problem is given attention and may result in reoffending,” Grant added.

“It is, in fact, quite a pressing need, which can make the perpetrator aware of their wrongdoing, help them take a first step toward change, and critically help to prevent a recurrence. You, the trained counsellors, will work alongside the over 600 policemen and women who have also been trained in identifying and treating with domestic violence situations,” DCP Grant stated.

Dr Gary Buddoo Fletcher —head of the JCF’s Chaplaincy Unit which facilitated the workshops, alongside Dr Patrece Charles — founder and chief executive officer of Phoenix Counselling Centre, noted the programme’s potential for positive impact.

“The volunteers have the benefit of not only playing a critical role in reducing domestic violence and ultimately domestic violence-related murders, but also, within their respective communities, to be generally involved in conflict resolution and peace management,” Dr Buddoo Fletcher said.

“Many of the participants are ministers of religion from various denominations and backgrounds who have large congregations across the island, and they are now better equipped and uniquely positioned to assist law enforcement in forging stronger relations with community members. As community influencers, they also have the opportunity and ability to train others in the prevention and handling of domestic violence,” he added..

Also present at the ceremony were National Security Minister Robert Montague and Commissioner of Police George Quallo.