Protocol stipulates that when a child is picked up by the police, the processing centres will provide an opportunity for the social worker and police office to carry out a thorough investigation to prepare a pre-charge report.
Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency Ann Greene said that the Juvenile Justice Act stipulates that a child is criminally responsible at the age of 14 but it does not say, that a child under the age of 14 cannot be charged.
She noted that the mandate at the Childcare and Protection Agency is to work along with the Guyana Police Force to establish processing centres to properly handle juvenile matters, rather than to place a minor into a jail cell.
“A juvenile must be held accountable for an act and when encountered by the police they must be placed in a system where rehabilitation can be administered immediately. Also, the holding area must be child-friendly,” Green stated.
Once in the processing centres, the Director mentioned that juveniles will undergo psychological evaluation to establish the reason(s) for their actions.
“We need to know their education level, their living condition and also acquire information to reach out to parents or guardians. This will be enough time to assess cases and get an understanding when the matter is put before the court,” the Director said.
“We are holding the parents accountable, they must keep their children off the streets, the children are being exposed and exploited, persons are saying all manners of things to them, people can also take them away, it’s a risk being at street corners begging,” she warned.