Friendly Fire

Christinah Motlhabane

Botswana Police open special child centre

In a bid to move with the times, Botswana Police Service (BPS) have opened a Child Friendly Service Centre in Francistown.

Located opposite the second city’s Central Police Station, the facility offers a more conducive environment for interviewing minors, both victims and suspects.

The centre, the second of its kind in the country, includes a specially designed interview room for children under 10 and a separate one for teenagers. As well as a reception, the building also consists of: a community service area, an office for the officer in charge and bathrooms.

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Speaking at the official launch on Friday, Police Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe said it is hoped introducing such a set-up will ultimately lead to a reduction in crimes against children.

Other goals targeted by the initiative include: a drop in re-offending youths, prevention of juvenile delinquency and an increase in public confidence in the way police handle cases involving children.

“The initiative was piloted in Gaborone towards the end of 2020 in an event officiated by the First Lady, Neo Masisi. We intend to roll out the initiative to the remaining police divisions within the next 12 months,” revealed Makgophe, who described the undertaking as vitally important.

“I need not over-emphasis the importance of adopting a multi faced approach towards addressing issues affecting children. We will continue to involve different key stakeholders such as health, social services and judiciary in tackling these cases,” promised Botswana’s highest ranked cop.

For his part, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Thomas Kagiso Mmusi explained that to ensure cases involving GBV and abuse, especially those concerning children, are handled professionally, government piloted a Child Friendly Centre in Gaborone last December.

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“It will make children comfortable during interviews. To demonstrate our continued commitment to ending GBV and crimes against children, we will continue to subject our criminal justice processes to periodic reviews in order to make them more child friendly and compliant to existing protocols and legislation,” declared Mmusi.

The Minister went on to say, “We will continue to sponsor legislative reforms in relevant statutes such as Penal Code, children’s at cyber crime and computer related crimes act, anti human trafficking act and sex offender’s registry act.”

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