ALL SECTORS of society must intervene to address youth delinquency before those young people end up in a life of crime says Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Security Lydia Jacobs.
“Research has suggested that there is a strong link between delinquency in the early years and later acts of criminality. Therefore, it is our responsibility to address the root causes of the issues which affect these young people because these problems could only fester if not addressed cooperatively by all sectors of the criminal justice system, and include an appropriate role for the business sector,community leaders, teachers and parents,” she said.
She was speaking yesterday at the Opening Session of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Technical Working Group on Preventing Crime by Focusing on At-Risk Youth and Vulnerable Populations, Banquet and Conference Centre MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain.
Jacobs said this country has benefitted from several different initiatives aimed at addressing the problem of at-risk youth and vulnerable populations within local communities.
One such initiative is the Juvenile Court Project (JCP) which is currently being implemented by the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“Currently, our criminal justice system is based largely on the punitive approach, and for children caught in the system, this approach fails to deter them from a life of crime. The JCP therefore aims to strengthen the capacity of the Judiciary to deal with matters relating to children using a rehabilitative, restorative and less retributive approach,” she said.
She explained there were three components of the JCP, which include, the Children Court, Peer Resolution and Public Education and Communications.
“The successful implementation of these three areas is expected to address the deficiencies in the current juvenile justice system and hopefully stem the increased rate of recidivism by children for serious crimes,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs said research shows young offenders who receive appropriate interventions will not continue to behave as criminals into adulthood.
“Taking this into consideration, the Ministry of National Security is committed to supporting this and other projects that emphasise the implementation of rehabilitative and restorative approaches for children who may come into contact with the criminal justice system,” she said.