Ministerial Statement by the Minister of National Security, The Hon. Wayne M. Caines, JP, MP
Good morning Mr. Speaker,
The Ministry of National Security has committed to making the reduction of gang violence a priority by introducing a number of significant, community focused initiatives to reduce gang violence and anti-social behaviour.
Today Mr. Speaker, I wish to highlight another initiative that is a critical part of our anti-violence strategy.
Mr. Speaker, the Violence Reduction Programme, or VRP, is an initiative already running in our correctional facilities. This is a critical programme that seeks to rehabilitate violent offenders through a cognitive therapeutic and clinical process.
Mr. Speaker, the VPR is a four to six month initiative, and is based upon cognitive-behavioural and social learning principles. A key aspect of the programme is that it incorporates a relapse prevention model.
The VRP aims to reduce the use of aggression and violence in adolescents, adult male and female offenders. The programme targets violent attitudes and behaviours whether actual, attempted, or threatened physical and / or emotional harm to a person, persons or property.
The VRP conducts group therapy for the participants, however individual sessions are also provided for participants who find working in groups too challenging.
Mr. Speaker, essentially, the aim of this programme is to reduce the likelihood and seriousness of violent and aggressive behaviour occurring or reoccurring in offenders by developing each participant's understanding of their own pathways into violent behaviours.
Mr. Speaker, I should note that as a cognitive therapeutic intervention method the VRP is designed for individuals convicted of various types of violent offences, particularly physical and emotional forms of violence.
The offences could range from murder to domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, handling and using offensive weapons, as well as many other physical and psychological coercive behaviours.
Mr. Speaker, I should point out that not every individual convicted of a violent offence will qualify to complete the VRP, as the selection criteria is twofold.
- First, a history of violence whether convicted under the law or not must be present in a participant's profile. The history of violence could be for a current or previous offence or for violence conduct for which no legal proceedings had occurred.
- Second, each participant must undergo a comprehensive psychological evaluation of their personality, violence ideation, mental state, intellectual ability and levels of motivation as part of the consideration to accept them into the programme.
By encouraging participants to examine attitudes that lead to violence and offering skills and strategies to avoid the use of violence in the future, we believe that the VRP is a programme that will be effective and have a meaningful impact.
In fact Mr. Speaker, I can report that six inmates at the Westgate Correctional Facility have recently successfully undergone and completed the Violence Reduction Programme.
The clinical facilitators of the programme indicate that the participants demonstrated an excellent understanding of the key factors that motivate and sustain violent behaviours.
Further the participants believed there was value in the programme and were appreciative of engaging in this critical, restorative initiative aimed at rehabilitating their lives.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry is encouraged by this outcome. We will continue to strive to introduce more programmes to reach our people who are most in need whether they are in our correctional facilities or in our communities.
And in doing so Mr. Speaker, we will continue to uphold our commitment of being a caring and responsible Government for the people of Bermuda.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker