Police Commissioner Milton Desir has welcomed the completion of a project to assist the police Vulnerable Persons Team (VPT) deal with vulnerable persons.
Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia, with funding through the government of Canada through the Women’s Voice and Leadership Project, on Wednesday officially handed over a newly refurbished VPT counselling room to provide a more welcoming environment during disclosures, debriefing and counselling sessions.
Commissioner Desir described the initiative as a ‘good gesture’.
He recalled that some time ago Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia President, Catherine Sealys, approached him with the idea of preparing a room where vulnerable individuals could be at ease.
And according to the police chief, he gave the initiative his full blessing.
“As you know, victims of sexual abuse or physical abuse, young persons who are vulnerable – they need to be settled to relay whatever information to the police,” Desir explained.
Desir observed that for this reason, VPT officers do not wear police uniforms which could intimidate the vulnerable persons they are trying to assist.
He noted that people who have experienced trauma find it difficult to tell their story.
However, the police commissioner explained that for a matter to be presented to the court, there must be statements to prove allegations.
He expressed the view that in a relaxed setting vulnerable individuals, who are usually less fortunate children who are taken advantage of by others, would be encouraged to speak to officers.
Nevertheless, while expressing gratitude for the work of Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia in upgrading the VPT counselling room, Desir noted that the room is cramped.
As a result, he said the ideal would be for every officer to have a room where they could conduct interviews.
In this regard, he suggested that Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia could consider making the current VPT counselling room larger as another of the organisation’s projects.
The organisation’s Alberta Richelieu stressed the commitment of Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia to providing quality, compassionate and non-judgemental services, in a manner that fosters self-respect and independence in women and children experiencing gender-based violence.
Richelieu also said the organisation would lead the struggle to end ‘this brutality’ through advocacy and community education.