The Regina Children’s Justice Centre (RCJC) is a child-friendly integrated unit where police and child protection workers, along with partners in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region and the Crown Prosecutor’s Office, operate as a team to review and respond to reports of the physical or sexual abuse of children.
The concept of an integrated review unit was developed in 1994 as a three-year pilot project know as the Regina Integrated Child Abuse Unit. It was established after several investigations and court decision identified a need to change both the way children were interviewed and the way child abuse investigations were conducted. The Departments (now Ministries) of Justice and Social Services (now Community Resources and Employment) and the Regina Police Service provided funding for the pilot project.
The RCJC has gradually expanded to meet the challenge of handling child exploitation, Internet exploitation and child pornography investigations. The structure and case practice at the RCJC strongly reflect the principles of the Provincial Child Abuse Protocol, which promotes a coordinated and integrated approach to child abuse interviews.
The RCJC provides an integrated child-centered approach to conducting interviews and investigations into allegations of physical or sexual abuse of children. On average, about 400 cases are managed each year.
The interests and needs of the child are foremost at all times. Each interview is conducted by a police officer and a child protection worker from the Ministry of Social Services. Together they decide upon a course of action and follow-up.
The RCJC has access to on-call Child Abuse Team physicians who provide medical services to child victims. The RCJC also works closely with the Child Abuse Team prosecutors who review any file that has the potential to result in the laying of criminal charges.
The RCJC has become widely known and is recognized for its expertise and approach. Because it is one of only a handful of integrated child abuse investigation units in North America, staff regularly provide consultation services. They have been invited to speak at INTERPOL and have lectured at the University of Ottawa. Staff regularly lecture through the Saskatchewan Police College, at the National Training Academy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to non-governmental agencies and First Nations groups.
Good information makes for good decisions. Bringing together a team enables a complete and thorough investigation, sharing of information and effective case management.
Utilizing this integrated model greatly reduces the trauma to child victims. For instance, using the RCJC method of forensic child interviewing allows for the gathering of maximum amount of information with the minimum amount of intrusion. Interviews are conducted in a “soft room” designed to create a more relaxing and less official-looking environment. The interviews are videotaped for use in court. They are available for use by counsellors and therapists, thus reducing the need to subject the child to repeat interviews.
The RCJC provides a child-friendly waiting room outfitted with toys and books, a lounge and waiting room area with a TV and DVD player for the use of parents and children. There are two dedicated forensic child interview rooms and office space.