Minister praised on police plan

Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa's announcement that he is bringing back the specialised family violence, child abuse and sexual offences (FCS) units has come as a relief to organisations dealing with sexual violence against women and children.

Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa's announcement that he is bringing back the specialised family violence, child abuse and sexual offences (FCS) units has come as a relief to organisations dealing with sexual violence against women and children.

Mthethw a announced in Parliament recently that there was a need to review the restructuring of FCS units at police stations.

Ministry spokesperson Hangani Mulaudzi said the minister wanted the dedicated units back and plans were in place to have them up and running before the end of the year.

Mulaudzi said the plan was to have FCS units in all police stations across the country. "We want service delivery at police station level."

He said the redeployment of specialised officers to police stations in 2006 had had a negative effect on the investigations of sexual offence cases. "We want to bring back those skilled officers to come and deal with sexual offence cases."

Lisa Vetten, a senior researcher at Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, welcomed the announcement.

"It is the best news for rape survivors. Our research shows that the work of the FCS detectives is far superior to that of ordinary detectives."

Shereen Mills of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies said the dedicated units contributed to reducing trauma in women and child survivors of sexual violence.

Samantha Waterhouse, one of the researchers who conducted research on the effect of the restructuring, said the restructuring resulted in new and inexperienced police officers being brought in to provide services to rape survivors without being given proper training.

She said trained FCS detectives could not focus on sexual offence cases because they were also obliged to investigate other cases.

The organisations called on the ministry to make available a budget that would make provision for training, equipment and resources needed to fight sexual violence.

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