Social enquiry reports (SERs) are formal documents prepared by the Probation and Aftercare Service on personal, family and social circumstances of persons with the aim of helping the soliciting agency to take a decision with regard to these persons.
SERs are prepared for diverse agencies namely District, Intermediate and Supreme Courts, Solicitor General's Office, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Commission on The Prerogative of Mercy, Prime Minister's Office, Parole Board, Rehabilitation and Correctional Youth Centre Board of Visitors, Probation Home and Hostel, National Adoption Council, SACIM, International Social Service etc. These reports can generally be classified as criminal and civil social enquiry reports.
Criminal SERs which are requested by criminal courts are mainly of two types: Pre-sentence Reports (PSRs) and Community Service Reports (CSRs). While PSRs are prepared on any offender referred by courts to the Probation Service, CSRs are specific to those offenders who are referred for consideration as to their suitability to be accorded community service orders (to perform unpaid work in the community).
Civil SERs pertain to such matters as custody of children, right of visit, 'droit d'hebergement', adoption, guardianship, deprivation of parental authority etc. These reports are prepared for the Supreme Court, the Solicitor General's Office and other agencies.
The guiding principles underlying the preparation of SERs are:
- Protection of human rights
Where children are involved, such principles as the 'best interests of the child' and 'least detrimental alternative' are always adhered to.
SUPERVISION AND REHABILITATION Depending on factors such as seriousness of the offence, criminal history of the offender, any mitigating circumstances relating to the offence etc., criminal courts can impose custodial and non-custodial sentences on offenders. Custodial sentences are imprisonment and committal orders to the Rehabilitation and Correctional Youth Centres. Non-custodial sentences may be any of the following:
Absolute or conditional discharge Community service orders Probation orders Suspended order for drug detoxification Fines
The Probation and Aftercare Services is concerned mainly with community service orders and probation orders whereby offenders granted such orders remain under the supervision of Probation Officers until the expiry of the orders. Non-compliance with the conditions of these orders may entail breach procedures.
The Probation and Aftercare Service also supervises offenders and other persons under the system of throughcare, aftercare and parole. Throughcare and aftercare are schemes applicable to juveniles only.
Throughcare is a continuum of care given to juveniles from the point of sentence/ commitment to the point of their release from detention; the Probation Officer acts as a link between the detained juveniles and their families/ community. Throughcare has no statutory status but is a well-established practice within the Rehabilitation Youth Centre and the Probation Institutions.
Aftercare is accorded to juvenile offenders who have been released in the community from the RYC/CYC until the expiry of their orders. The juveniles remain under the supervision of Probation Officers and if they breach any of the conditions imposed upon them, their aftercare orders may be revoked following which they will have to be brought back into the reform institution.
Parole is aftercare applicable to adult prisoners. It is a system whereby prisoners are conditionally released in the community under the supervision of a Probation Officer prior to the expiry of their sentence. Any breach of the parole conditions may entail the revocation of the licence.
An Attendance Centre is run by the Probation and Aftercare Service for imparting pro-social skills to selected offenders and other persons. The aim is to educate and reform them. Currently, three centres are in operation at Beau Bassin Headquarters, Curepipe Probation Office and Pamplemousses Probation Office. The Prosocial Skills Programme delivered in two batches from January to June and from July to December comprises the following modules:
- offending and victim awareness
- significance of culture and prosocial values
- effective problem-solving and goal-setting
- strengthening of family ties
- adolescence/sexuality and behaviour disorder
- constructive leisure activities (by Ministry of Youth)
- substance abuse
- anger and stress management
- effective social functioning
- the way forward (& award of certificate of completion)
Institutional care is provided to juveniles with mild antisocial behaviour and whose home surroundings are not conducive for their proper development. Two semi-open residential institutions viz. the Probation Hostel for Boys (located at Les Casernes, Curepipe) and the Probation Home for Girls (situated at Maha Kabir Street, Phoenix) operate along a family model and offer diverse activities for the rehabilitation of the juveniles. Each institution is managed by a Committee.
COUNSELLING AND MEDIATION
Counselling and mediation are carried out with parties facing marital, family and other social problems. People involved in conflict or seeking advice either come by themselves or are referred by other agencies to the regional Probation Offices. The Probation Officer acts as a counsellor or a mediator, helping in the therapeutic resolution of problems.
Preventive work consists of delivery of talks in the community to all categories of people including students, women and elderly people. Social issues such as juvenile delinquency, interpersonal relationships, adolescent sexuality, drug addiction, stress and anger etc. are addressed.