27 September 2017

South Africa: Western Social Development On Child Probation Services Workshop

press release

Child Probation Services Workshop: Department to establish child justice Task Team

The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) will establish a Task Team within the Provincial Child Justice Forum, to tackle issues affecting the smooth implementation of the Child Justice Act of 2008.

This comes in the wake of a multi-stakeholder Child Probation Services Workshop held last week. The department invited all key role-players in the administration of the Child Justice Act, including the;

South African Police Services

DSD Probation Officers (social workers)

The Department of Justice & Constitutional Development

The Department of Correctional Services

The Judiciary (Children's Court Judges and Magistrates)

The National Prosecuting Authority

Secure Care Centre managers

Key child justice NGO partners.

The aim of the workshop was to build consensus on best operating procedures with regards to the administration of justice to children who are in conflict with the law. Additionally, the workshop aimed to build better cooperation among stakeholders and discuss interventions which could deal with shared challenges in administering the Act.

In his address to the workshop, Western Cape Social Development Minister, Albert Fritz, made it clear that our efforts as role-players must be to ever increasingly divert children away from the criminal justice system and into affirming social programmes.

"We must work harder to create opportunities for children that'll see them avoid choosing a life of crime completely, whilst simultaneously improving our coordination of services under the Child Justice Act in the best interests of the child", said Minister Fritz.

"As a department, we will continue to invest heavily in our provision of highly trained and specialised Probation Officers and in our Secure Care Centres", said Minister Fritz.

The department has 89 Probation Officers, and 48 Assistant Probation Officers within the staff complement. These are qualified social workers employed by DSD, and are specialists in the child justice system. Their core functions include amongst other things, behavior management, crime prevention, conducting pre-sentencing investigations, and the compilation and presentation of reports to courts.

Crimes committed by children were increasingly becoming more serious and more violent. The most common offences committed by children within our Secure Care Centres, murder, common assault, housebreaking & theft, attempted murder, and rape.

Most sentenced children are in detention periods for short periods, however there is an increase in children serving longer detention periods.

The department has 4 in-house and funds 2 NGO operated Secure Care Centres. These are not prisons, therefore our security and containment measures are not as restrictive. The focus is on rehabilitation and the constructive development of the child.

As a department we remain committed to rendering quality services to all children, including children in conflict with the law. Key to our efforts will be to ensure we can cooperate efficiently with our Child Justice Act partners.

Child Probation Services Workshop: Department to establish child justice Task Team The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) will establish a Task Team within the Provincial Child Justice Forum, to tackle issues affecting the smooth implementation of the Child Justice Act of 2008.

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