Friday, August 19, 2005

MOD apartment adapted to support crime victims

Victims of violent crimes and sexual abuse, including children, will now have special facilities made available to ease the immediate aftermath of any incident and allow investigators to interview them in as comfortable a manner as possible.

The MoD funded facility - a converted apartment at Pelham House, Buena Vista Estate – has been used in the past to interview victims of crimes such as rape and child abuse. But it was officially opened yesterday following considerable improvements which also include professional facilities that will allow formal video interviewing and forensic medical inspections.

The facility is available to the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) and Gibraltar Security Police (GSP) and the upgrading project has been led by Warrant Officer Jim Evans of the Royal Military Police, Joint Service Police Unit who leaves Gibraltar for a new posting shortly.

Commodore Allan Adair unveiled a plaque marking the event at a brief informal ceremony yesterday at the apartment in the presence of RGP deputy Commissioner Jimmy McKay and GSP Chief Superintendent John Durante.

Mr Evans, the equivalent of a CID officer for the services community explained that under British law the courts were now accepting properly videoed interviews as an alternative to having child witnesses or victims have to endure the stress of a court appearance. Although this is not the practice in Gibraltar at present the apartment does mean that the authorities can provide a facility which allows people to feel secure in an environment that is not hostile.

Now better equipped with video recording equipment and a one-way connecting mirror the facility is modelled on those which detective Evans has seen used in other jurisdictions.

The facility has been available in a less complete form for some two years and has been used an average of 15 to 20 times a year by the military and some 12 occasions by the RGP.

The facilities include a proper bed for doctors to examine and treat people.

“We have facilities so that clothing can be removed for forensic examination and then people can wash and have a fresh set of clothing. This is a lot less intimidating than taking a victim to a public hospital,” he explained.

Police in Gibraltar are trained in video interviewing techniques.

Both the Commander British Forces and Mr Evans thanked the people who had contributed to the project including local sponsors and businesses.

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