The community will have access to a new victim support service operating under the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force Saba. Coordinating Head Sheloutska Martinus-Francees explained the role of the new Bureau for Victim Support for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. She was joined by local volunteer Johanna “Hanny” Laurentina Schouten. The new, free service offers practical, legal and emotional assistance for victims or parties affected by crime or an accident, Martinus explained. The service was initiated in 2006, under the Netherlands Antilles Police Force and transitioned after 2010 into a new service under the Police Force for the Caribbean Netherlands.
Aid will be extended to all victims or witnesses of crime, including victims of burglary, stalking, robbery, sexual assault, abuse and domestic violence. The service may also be approached by parents seeking advice or any other involved party, such as relatives, friends and acquaintances of crime victims, as well as bystanders.
Martinus said the police will inform victims of the availability of the service and refer them to the volunteer on Saba. The service is to include a shelter for victims of crimes, but such a facility is still under discussion.
Schouten is a long-time resident of Saba and is the former coach of nurses of A.M. Edwards Medical Centre and Honourable Henry Every Old Age Home. She received special training on Bonaire in April 2010 together with other volunteers from Bonaire and Statia. So far, Schouten is the only trained volunteer on Saba and Martinus called on any interested persons to contact her office should they wish to join. Volunteers are trained to answer questions about victims’ right and compensation for damages. They can assist in writing letters or help with filling out forms and may accompany victims to the police or doctor or refer them to care providers. The volunteers are trained to provide information on legal procedures and insurance. They are able to assist with posttraumatic feelings or anxiety, anger and depression or to listen to victims. The volunteers can invite the victims for conversations at the police office or may visit them at a safe location.
Martinus stressed that everything the victims say will be handled confidentially. The service is expected to guide victims or surviving relatives through the maze of agencies and formalities following an incident. Victims of human trafficking or individuals aware of or suspecting such crimes may also contact the Victim Support Bureau. Information on this specific type of crime is available online at www.mensenhandel.nl or www.politiecn.com. The main police support hotline remains 416-3737, but the Victim Support volunteer can be reached directly at 416-6856. The Bonaire office can be reached at E-mail email@example.com.