The Family Support Unit/ Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub
The Family Support Unit (FSU) is an investigative unit that handles cases involving domestic violence and child protection with a focus on victim support and inter-agency coordination. It encompasses both the Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) and the Child Safeguarding Investigations Unit (CSIU). The CSIU forms the RCIPS’ arm within the larger Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), which opened in March 2017.
The RCIPS has a “Zero Tolerance” Policy regarding domestic violence, which prompts all officers to take positive and appropriate action when encountering a situation suggesting that domestic violence has occurred or has the potential to occur. Such situations often occur between spouses or partners but can also occur between family members, including adult siblings. While not all such situations provide the basis for an arrest, officers nonetheless must facilitate a positive intervention in all cases, which at a minimum will take the form of a referral to FSU detectives or other agencies for counseling and support.
FSU detectives in the Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) advise and assist uniform officers in handling such cases, while also investigating the more serious reports of violence within the home, especially repeat incidents. They receive specialist training in this area and provide a confidential and supportive environment for complainants and their families, with a priority on victim care, while at the same time ensuring that all suspects are treated fairly.
The DVU also works closely with other government agencies, including the Department of Children and Family Services, and external agencies, such as the Counselling Centre, Cayman Islands’ Crisis Center and the Family Resource Centre, to provide victims and families with the varied forms of support they may need. Throughout 2017 the number of domestic violence complaints to police maintained their trend upward and are projected to reach a total of approximately 650 for the year 2017. This may indicate increased incidences of violence or a greater willingness on the part of complainants to come forward and contact the police. The DVU works with its partners to raise awareness about domestic violence and the support systems in place to assist victims.
In March 2017 the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) opened in new offices in Anderson Square and began operating as the primary child safeguarding focal point with strategic and operational responsibility for all child welfare matters in the Cayman Islands. It is a framework for interagency cooperation through the co-location of agency partners in the same workspace, acting as a catalyst for greater information-sharing and collaboration. The partnerships created during the formation of the MASH include RCIPS, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Health Services Authority (HSA), as well as Department of Education Services (DES) and other Government and Non-Government agencies. All partner agencies in the MASH contribute to an information sharing protocol for the ultimate goal of strengthening child safeguarding from all forms of abuse.
The RCIPS detectives within the MASH form the Child Safeguarding Investigations Unit (CSIU) and investigate cases involving all forms of abuse of children, including sexual abuse. They operate with paramount concern for child safety and victim care and facilitate victim support through access to available services wherever possible. Most importantly, they act in a coordinated manner with MASH partners to identify potential child abuse at the earliest opportunity and prevent any further abuse through immediate and appropriate intervention.
Since the opening of the MASH, referrals of child abuse received by the RCIPS have increased exponentially by over 60%. This may indicate a greater awareness by children or the public at large about child abuse and the availability of coordinated assistance. Successful prosecutions in high-profile cases involving the sexual abuse of minors in 2017 have also been covered extensively in the local media. (see links)
The CSIU is currently working together with both governmental and external partners, such as Protection Starts Here, to raise awareness about the need for National Standards on Child Safeguarding in the Cayman Islands. The FSU as a whole is active in initiatives to strengthen the governmental and societal response to domestic violence and child abuse, with frequent media appearances and community activities.
Child Safety Tips and Advice