ST. JOHN’S – The Department of Statistics has made significant progress in developing a database which will see multiple local government agencies keeping track of child abuse cases.
According to developer William O’Brien, the idea was initiated by the Social Services Department as part of their work in child safeguarding. The plan is to designate each victim with a unique ID and populate the forms with the data related to the case. Other departments such as the police, hospital, court and education will be able to input details but won’t necessarily be able to access all of the information from other agencies.
The need for such a system was discussed after reviewing the Antigua situation where different agencies collect data but as they are not linked, leads to duplications and inflated numbers of the crimes.
Using the ID designated by social services will help with anonymity and create a uniquely identification for each person, the developer explained.
Statistician Siobhann Tuitt said being able to track the cases will allow for the collection of different types of data. It would be possible, for example, to assess the judicial system and how long it takes from the time a case is filed to completing the court process. It would also be able to assess the magistrates/judges and whether their are recurring patterns to how they rule on cases.
Child Protection Specialist Elaine Ryan said the project has the potential to make significant changes to the current process which offers limited privacy to clients. It is also being looked at by UNICEF as an option to be rolled out in other territories.
O’Brien added that while currently the database can only be accessed locally, the potential is there for it to be linked on a web interface to other agencies overseas. Both departments are hoping the project can begin testing within the coming three months.