Information Officer II
Ministry of Education and Culture
Phone: 468-3107 Ext 3353
The British Virgin Islands now has its first accredited sex offender treatment programme.
The Ministry of Education and Culture recently collaborated with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the United Kingdom (UK) to provide the Virgin Islands with its first accredited sex offender treatment programme titled: ‘Sharing My Success’.
Minister for Education and Culture, with responsibility for Prisons, Honourable Myron V. Walwyn said, “I am pleased to see that this programme was completed and that the inmates are benefiting from it. Rehabilitation is paramount in the prison system and the Ministry is keen on having a full rehabilitation programme implemented to ensure that all the inmates have the opportunity to gain skills which will make them productive citizens on re-entering the community.”
Honourable Walwyn congratulated Superintendent of Prisons, Mr. David Foot and staff for their leadership and commitment in implementing the programme.
The programme, Sharing My Success, ended in June with five prisoners completing the six-week course at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP). It can be delivered to individual offenders or to groups of men up to a maximum of six. The programme covers the following topics: How to cope better with life’s problems; Strengthen healthy sexual thoughts and behaviours; Strengthen skills in developing and maintaining healthy relationships; Develop pro-social and positive support networks; Develop a positive self – identity; and Strengthen ability to cope with negative emotions.
Superintendent Mr. Foot said, “An important part of this collaboration is that ‘Sharing My Success’ is licensed to the Virgin Islands which means we will be able to update ourselves when necessary and train additional staff. The success of this as a project also means that we will be sharing our success with other territories in the Caribbean which hope to deliver this programme.”
Two forensic psychologists who are specialists in this field in the United Kingdom Prison Service spent some time meeting offenders and staff in the Territory in November and February and then returned to the UK to write a programme based on the Virgin Islands’ needs. They subsequently returned to train staff from both HMP and the Social Development Department in facilitating the course.
The facilitators trained are Acting Sergeant Ganesia Smith, Germaine Freeman, Kesena Okoro, and Jenene Edwards from HMP, as well as Angelle Smith, Ife Gaskin and Alethia Turnbull-Thomas from the Social Development Department. Acting Sergeant Ganesia Smith facilitated the first course.
‘Sharing My Success’ follows a tested treatment pattern adopted by the National Offender Management Service in the UK with good results.
Staff was also trained to use the ‘Risk and Success Factors Analysis’ screening tool which is recognised internationally for assessing the risk factors that need to be addressed by this type of programme in each individual. With this tool, staff can decide the best way forward with regards to treatment and focus on specific areas of need for each prisoner, hopefully maximising the chance of preventing that prisoner from re-offending.
Rehabilitative Education is high on the agenda as it relates to the ministry’s responsibilities to Her Majesty’s Prison and the mandate for a rehabilitation programme. The Ministry of Education and Culture continues to address these matters in an endeavour to “Create a Culture of Excellence” in the Virgin Islands.