Sunday 22 April, 2018

Clamping down on child abuse, local MASH unit opens

The MASH Unit is tasked with acting as the first point of reference for safeguarding concerns and promoting the welfare of children.

The first MASH units in the United Kingdom were developed in 2011 in response to failures of agencies to work together to safeguard children and young people.

Once information is reported to the MASH unit, it is to be shared within the MASH team and investigated.

A cross-agency plan is then developed for tracking the situation or intervening with family support and treatment, should circumstances merit.

The press conference, which was held at the unit's office in Anderson Square, saw the Governor, Premier, Acting Commissioner of Police and Director of Department of Children and Family Services participating in the opening ceremony

In speaking at the opening event, Governor Helen Kilpatrick noted that in line with international best practices, MASH Units significantly improve the sharing of information among agencies and helps protect vulnerable children from harm, neglect, and abuse. 

“The establishment of the MASH is a big step forward toward comprehensive child safeguarding across the islands," said Kilpatrick.

 “As a society, I know that we are all concerned and appalled at any kind of child abuse. As a Government we  are committed to tackling this and have worked together to form this multi-agency group to address the safety and protection of children in the Cayman Islands,” added Premier Alden McLaughlin. 

McLaughlin noted that his administration fully supported the work of those including officers and psychologist, who had already begun working in the Unit and thanked them on behalf of future generations.

Earlier this year the MASH Unit became functional, as a team of detectives, social workers, and an HSA psychologist started working out of the offices at Anderson Square.

The MASH unit comprises of eight social workers and eight police officers with plans to add three more officers who are currently undergoing training.

Acting Commissioner of Police Anthony Ennis who also spoke at the event lauded the multi-disciplinary approach of the unit.

“This multi-disciplinary approach to child safeguarding is a welcome approach and a top priority for the RCIPS, along with other stakeholder agencies, so we can leverage our resources to protect our nation’s children, and bring to justice predators that would rob a child of her or his innocence,” said Ennis.

 “The MASH is much more than the sum of its parts,” said  Felicia Robinson, Director of Department of Children and Family Services.

“Working in the same office space enables a type of cooperation that increases both the speed and quality of our casework, improving our services and our ability to intervene when necessary in a more timely and effective way,” added Robinson

The MASH office at Anderson Square is not a “walk-in” facility.