The Social Welfare Services aim to combat delinquency and towards this end, they operate the following programmes:
- Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency
- Custody of Adults and under-age individuals
- Reports for the Courts of Law
Delinquency – Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency
Decriminalization of offences committed by children has been applied since 1977 after an agreement was reached between the Department of Social Welfare Services, the Police and the Attorney General. Administrative procedures are used as an alternative measure to children΄s exposure to court proceedings.
Children under the age of 16 years who commit minor crimes are diverted from prosecution and are treated as children in need of care, protection and rehabilitation. Alternative forms of sanctions for children in conjunction with family and individual support seem to constitute a more effective approach to delinquent behaviour in a young age.
The court may issue probation orders for minor crimes committed by children or adults. Welfare officers act as probation officers for a specified period to provide the convicted person with the necessary support and social network which will prevent recurrent deviant behaviour. The Social Welfare Services submit to the Court socio-economic reports for all juvenile offenders. When requested by Court, socioeconomic reports may be submitted for some adult offenders as well.
Delinquency – Custody of Adults and under-age individuals
According to the relevant Legislation Social Welfare Officers, act as probation officers for adults and under-age individuals who are under custody for a specific period of time. People who fall under this category have the opportunity to receive assistance from the probation officer. The probation officer must provide advice and support to the person under custody, ensure that he/she follows the terms and conditions of the custody report and provide the Court on a regular basis, with reports on his/her progress.
A Court Order may combine custody of the offender with community sentence. The particular sentence offers a suitable punishment and at the same time concentrates on making sure that the person does not commit more offences. The length of the sentence will depend on how serious the crime was.
According to the Court Order, the individual who is under custody is sentenced to work in Residential Homes that the Social Welfare Services operate, or in social welfare programmes run by the local Community Welfare Councils that are financed by the Social Welfare Services.
Delinquency – Reports for the Courts of Law
Social Welfare Services officers compose and submit to the Court socioeconomic reports for people who have committed an offence. The socioeconomic reports assist the Court in reaching a decision.