Streamlining cooperation between NGOs and police - task force approach to assist and protect trafficked minors

Streamlining cooperation between NGOs and police - task force approach to assist and protect trafficked minors

Moldova
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Streamlining cooperation between NGOs and police - task force approach to assist and protect trafficked minors throughout criminal investigations.

About You
Location
Project Street Address
Project City
Project Province/State
Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea
Sector Focus

Civil society

Year the initative began (yyyy)

2005

YouTube Upload
Web site (url)
Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Inadequate govt response/action

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Expand legal access and frameworks

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

This field has not been completed. (333 words or less)

Innovation
What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

Streamlining cooperation between NGOs and police - task force approach to assist and protect trafficked minors throughout criminal investigations.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

It is innovative and unique for Moldova because a police officer and a psychologist work hand-in-hand from the first signal of a possible case of a trafficked and abused child. It is innovative because the operational mode of this task force provides, on the one hand, for adequate treatment and support of the child in going through this traumatic (still) process of investigations and interviews, while building and advancing police officer’s knowledge and skills on special techniques of communication and strengthening rapport with a child, on the other hand. Such a model increases understanding of the practical role of specialists (police, psychologist, social worker, pedagogue etc) working with an abused child and thus increases trust to each other which leads to a complex, multi-agency response to cases of child neglecting and abuse and ultimately to a more effective support provided. Needless to say that such an approach is also benefiting the prosecution as it helps gather better quality material in a more optimal timing.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

The practice of implementation of a task force approach in dealing with children’ cases, by appointing a psycho-pedagogue and a psychologist to work hand-in-hand with the police officer, enables to identify the (psycho-social and legal) status of the child prior to the investigative interview, his/her needs and risks and thus engage a relevant work scheme that will facilitate communication between parties involved and allow a reassuring environment, reducing the secondary victimization of the child, organize necessary support for the child by bringing-in other specialized/competent service providers on the one hand and improve the quality of the material gathered related to the crime, organize the interview in a child-friendly space, better plan future actions on the case on the other hand.

How do you plan to grow your innovation?

By (a) carrying out an assessment on national level of the current practices in the field of investigative interview on cases of child trafficking especially for and/or sexual exploitation and developing recommendations on their advancement considering international practices and standards; (b) continuous capacity building activities for the police on child-centered approach of investigations, interviewing techniques of victims of trafficking including children, promotion of replication of task-force approach for other police units; (c) creation and institutionalization of a “child advocacy room”, which will allow to conduct interviews, psychological sessions with the child in a adapted and safe place and reduce the number of meetings and persons dealing with the case and the child, the psychologist being a mediator of the contact between the police officer/lawyer/prosecutor and the child.

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how do you create them?

With regard to this specific practice, a Memorandum of Understanding is signed with the Center for Combating Trafficking in Persons under the Ministry of Interior of Moldova. This document serves as a ground for joint/partnership approach to assisting trafficking cases including minors-victims of trafficking. A task force is created for every case as an immediate response to any signal of a trafficking/case of sexual exploitation of a child. In addition, cooperation is also extended to various service providers including social, medical, legal and other services.

Impact
Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

We aim at securing welfare of the child-victim throughout crime investigation process so that the child is empowered by/as a result of the process of making justice rather then humiliated and discouraged.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

- Lack of trained personnel as well as fluctuation of personnel in relevant state agencies
- Lack of the internal police regulations stipulating the mandate and tasks of a psycho-pedagogue as a mediator during the investigation
- Lack of understanding and trust in task-force approaches by the police officers
- Lack of specially equipped “child advocacy room”

How many people have you served or plan to serve?

Up to date, around 30 children, victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and/or of traveling sex offenders were assisted using the specialized procedure. All children assisted are nationals aged between 4 – 15 years old. The length of mediation services extends from 4 months to 1 year.

Directly

• Children victims of trafficking and/or of sexual abuse - identification of the needs of the child: the need for “reflection period”, facilitating access to urgent and long-term medical, psychological, social assistance and education. Providing psychological and informational counseling. Assuring child’ emotional stability and comfort before, during and after the investigative interview.
• Police officers from regional police departments - organization of working meetings for on-going cases, improving communication and common approaches procedures, providing psycho-social profile of the child, which is attached to the criminal case and which also includes recommendations on type of behavior and language to be used by police officer in future communication with the child. Organization of common field trips.

Indirectly

• Relatives of children - providing informational and psychological assistance to the parent before interviewing the child. Informing the parent about the procedures as well as possible assistance provided to the child.

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation?

- Increased number of requests of mediation of the contact between the police and the child from the local police as a signed of trust and deeper understanding of special treatment of child during criminal investigation;
- Elaboration and distribution of guidelines for task force approach for police officers/lawyers/judges/prosecutors

Is there a policy intervention element to your innovation?

Our work and activities are intended to improve and advance the child protection system in Moldova from the policy level to the operational one, from the prevention side to integration.

Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

Our services are targeted to children, victims of trafficking and of traveling sex offenders. The services and assistance procedure includes relatives o these children whereas supportive environment for them should first come from their facilities. Finally, the operational procedure includes work with police officers whereas knowledge about child special treatment is passed to police officer via field work.

Sustainability
How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

To date, the activities of the International Center La Strada and this initiative itself is financially supported by the international community/international funds. The Government of Moldova fails to support NGOs work as well as fails to financially support such activities for which reason La Strada is looking for financial contribution from various international donors. The 24 hours availability of La Strada psycho-pedagogues is provided on a voluntary basis. For the future, La Strada will look into the possibility of extending the current partnership with governmental authorities whereas the government to contribute with a state building/premise which could be properly equipped and operate as a child advocacy room/center.

If known, provide information on your finances and organization

Our annual budget during the last years varied from 150 000 to 400 000 EURO mainly depending on the scale and duration of initiatives. We are a team of 12 full time staff including financial and operational staff as well as 4 part-time professionals. Our activities are also supported by a team of 25 peer-to-peer educators that work on a voluntary basis. Some of our activities and services like mobile crisis psychological services available 24 hours are provided on a voluntary basis.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

To date, we mostly work with the police officers from the Center to Combat Trafficking in Persons, yet as of last year the number of request to provide meditation services from the local police have increased. Judging by the number of identified children victims of trafficking/sexual abuse, by the success in gradual replication of services, as well as providing that the official cooperation will be extended to other police/law enforcement units, we expect that the demand will increase already from this year in terms of number of children to be assisted, scale of services and duration.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

NGOs in Moldova can not rely on state contribution for various reasons including low recognition of NGOs, unfair attitude, lack of will and trust; underdeveloped altruism and corporate social responsibility; underdeveloped voluntary work among professionals/practitioners; low/now recognition by foreign financial contributors/donors of Moldovan NGOs financial and administrative capacity thus most funds are granted to international agencies that develop programs on their own; bigger part of financial support provided is conditioned to tight time schedule.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

The need to do something about children going through investigations was felt and become visible from the very first contacts with police and children themselves. Thus, the first steps were built and based on professional intuitions coming from experience, on dialogue with police officers and were dictated by the need to do something right now and not later. The service started with social escort and with each child, each cases our team has extended the services, duration, tasks and degree of participation. Each case has brought extra lessons which we shared with the police. Later, the minimum acquired knowledge and experience, lessons leaned and challenges laid the first internal operational standards. Encouraged by the achievements, our team has started to look for similar international practices and training programs. The US and UK experiences have further inspired our team to improve and develop our model and brought a lot of insights.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Ana Revenco – founder and president of the International Center “La Strada” (NGO) established in Moldova in 2001. I have started La Strada with another 3 women – dedicated young professionals who have greatly helped me in building and developing our anti-trafficking programs. My responsibilities include developing La Strada Moldova overall strategy on counteracting trafficking in persons. I lead strategic projects of La Strada related to the research, promotion and development of the Moldovan National Referral Mechanism for the assistance and protection of trafficking survivors; provided consultancy to the Moldovan Government for the development of the Anti-Trafficking Law and Anti-Trafficking National Action Plan.

Emphasis of Work

This field has not been completed. (166 words or less)