Ajman: At first glance, the room inside the Ajman Police Social Centre looks like a play room. The decor is child-friendly, the colours bright and appealing. A child is busy playing and there’s no telling an interrogation session is under way. But that’s precisely what the exercise is about.
While this room is dedicated to children under 10, another is for juveniles under 18. The children are at ease, play a game, do some drawings or watch TV in between their conversations with specialists.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Captain Wafa Khalil Al Hosani, Director of Social Centre at Ajman Police, explained how the police handle these cases with utmost care.
“As many as 18 police specialists [15 female and three male] in child psychology assist in the interrogation of a child in a stress — free environment,” she said.
Capt Al Hosani said when police bring kids in for questioning, they use special interrogation tactics.
The specialist sits in a separate room behind a panel while the child plays in another room, engaged in different activities.
The specialist can see the child and monitor his/her movement which can produce evidence against defendants.
Capt Al Hosani said the interrogation rooms help police in obtaining statements from children in an easy way that takes into account their privacy and respects their humanitarian and social situation.
She added that Ajman Police offer specialised investigators who are able to deal with children’s issues with high professionalism.
She said that special mechanisms are used to collect the statement in a scientific manner that takes into consideration the age of the children.
Specialists interrogating the children will rely on what parents suspect — like bullying or sexual abuse.
“This initiative has two aspects. Following an event, children will no longer have to visit police stations to give their statements but instead will be brought to social centre [villa] with their parents, which helps them stay relaxed,” she said.
She said the rooms are equipped with special tools utilising electronic programmes that help in obtaining accurate statements from children. There is no limit in time to interrogate a child.
In the case of the juveniles, specialists even visit them at home to uncover the truth.
The fact that the centre has not referred any case that has come to it to the court speaks volumes for the success of its strategy. The Social Support Centre at Ajman Police has investigated and examined 25 child and juvenile cases since the beginning of 2019, till the first week of March, as compared to 25 cases in 2018 and 176 in 2017. In 10 cases, official documents and passports were issued, and school admission facilitated in five others.
In one case, a woman contacted the centre from outside the country via WhatsApp, begging to see her children as she had not sees them for five months.
The woman told officers that she could not come to the country. Officers arranged for the mother to see her children by via a video conference.
The mother, who talked to her children, was very grateful.
Sometimes, the centre even issues a visa for the mother or father [if they are outside the country ] to come to the UAE, arrange for their accommodation and enable them to spend time with their children.
In one case, the police managed to convince a father, who had abducted his nine — year-old daughter from the UAE to his home country, to return with the child, settle a marital dispute with his wife and hand the girl over to her.
The centre can be contacted at 06-748 4844 or 050-897 3223 (24 hours)