IGP unveils SOPs for handling cases involving children

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The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Baba, Thursday, unveiled the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for handling cases involving children in contact with the law.

Speaking during the official launch of the SOP, at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, the IGP Baba said its provisions would be added to the child protection documents already produced by the Force and its partners.

He noted that child abuse can come in different forms, including parents who stop their children from going to school or other activities that may affect the child’s life.

The police boss expressed hope that the SOPs would aid the Nigeria Police in addressing these issues.

Also speaking, the European Union (EU) Representative, Ruben Alba Aguilera, said the EU was already addressing issues of women and children, noting that the unveiling of the SOPs was an important step towards protecting and securing the children.

This is as she pledged more support from the EU to Nigeria.

Speaking on the objective of the meeting, UNICEF Chief Child Protection Officer, Ibrahim Sesay, said: “Children who come in contact with the Law, whether in police, prosecutors departments, or the judiciary, require child-friendly procedures that are sensitive and responsive to the specific needs and circumstances of children. The SOPs for children in contact with the law respond to the above needs.

“The child-friendly procedures will include using language suitable for their age at all stages of the process, provision and utilisation of safe and comfortable child-friendly interviewing spaces, provision of support by appropriate adults, linkages with social welfare and other sector services, availability of trauma-informed interview and testimony processes, removal of intimidating attire and appearances, evidence-based and timely provision of services, adaptation of proceeding protocols and information management system for the evidenced-based services delivery.

“However, implementing child-friendly procedures in the child justice system, including the Nigeria Police Force, needs enhancement. The 2014 VAC survey has evidence that less than six per cent of children who experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation receive the services they need within the justice system. “Implementing the SOPs will require a workforce with the capacity to establish and implement child-friendly procedures. The approved SOPs offer strategic framework to provide clear guidelines on procedures for providing services for children to facilitate timely access to justice, as justice delayed is justice denied.”