The Barnahus model was piloted in Riga, Latvia at Center Dardedze for six months during 2017 on the basis of the Barnahus Quality Standards. This pilot had a focus on the criminal investigation phase. The evaluation of the pilot highlighted that a number of things should be established: agreements among the parties, a monitoring committee, and Barnahus statutes (regulations). On 5 June 2018, the Cabinet of Ministers decided that the Ministry of Welfare should set up the Barnahus Monitoring Committee, and that this committee should develop Barnahus statutes.
The evaluation also highlighted the lack of a systematic approach in cases where there is a suspicion of sexual abuse yet, due to a lack of evidence, the case is reported to social services instead of the police. The State police pointed out that they often receive cases which are in the system for a long time already. In these cases, the child has had to tell his/her story repeatedly. This ruins the child`s testimony as evidence and also traumatises or retraumatises child.
During a series of meetings held in the fall of 2018, Center Dardedze, the Ministry of Justice, Riga Social service and State police agreed that implementation of the Barnahus model should resume as a part of early-stage psychological assessment in so-called “grey cases”. Barnahus model evidence based interview protocols should be used in these cases. Interviews must be conducted by a specially trained psychologist, video-recorded and observed by Social Service representative. If the child during the interview discloses facts that are enough to report the police, the interview is stopped, and the cases is reported to the police. The State police agreed to accept a child`s narrative fixed in this way as the basis for initiating criminal proceedings.
Recommendations for this work, developed on the basis of a series of roundtables held under the PROMISE 2 project, will be completed February 2019. The implementation of the recommendations is planned and will be financed by the BADEV project in the period of March – October 2019. Seminars covering the new collaboration mechanism will be held prior to a pilot of exploratory interviews (at least 30 cases) which will be held at Center Dardedze during April – October 2019. The implementation of the recommendations will be monitored and evaluated by 2 more roundtable meetings in PROMISE 2 during 2019, which will also develop the final recommendations.
The structure for recommendations is envisioned to include:
- An Introduction covering: the legal basis and the mapping results after the Barnahus pilot in Latvia in 2017; the Exploratory interview – the use of it and experience in Iceland; the Barnahus Quality Standards in cases of exploratory interviews.
- The recognition of sexual abuses “Grey” cases in the Social Service, including the basic criteria for identifying sexual abuse: age difference between the victim and abuser, threats, and bidding.
- A step by step description of the process and the roles of the actors involved, including an if/then action plan.