EUAM delivers to Ukrainian police and judges best methods of interviewing minors for criminal proceedings

May 14, 2021

Experts from Finnish Police in the area of investigating crimes against children became keynote speakers of EUAM’s webinar dedicated to interviewing children as part of criminal proceedings. The online event gathered representatives of law enforcement agencies in Kharkiv region this week.

Chief Inspector Miia Lehtinen and Sergeant Maria Rossi elaborated on approaches and techniques applied in such interviews, aimed at making them less harmful for children and more informative for investigators.

Children exposed to violence and abuse are vulnerable and often in need of multiple services, creating the risk of potential “secondary victimisation”. A model that has been implemented in the Nordic countries, and that attempts to meet children’s needs by offering multiple services in child-friendly premises and “under one roof”—the Nordic Barnahus model.

The concept “Barnahus” translates as “Children’s House” in English and originates from Iceland, the first Nordic country to adopt the model in 1998. Its target group includes all children who are victims and/or witnesses of crime involving all forms of violence.

All services are delivered under one roof, including the forensic interview, medical examination and child/family therapy. Under Barnahus model, interviewing rooms have child-friendly design and have no negative associations for kids, enabling victims to feel comfortable when interacting with professionals. The number of interviews is minimised in order to reduce re-traumatisation caused by repeatedly giving the same story and improve the evidential quality of the child’s account by eliminating the possibility of the account changing through repeated interviews.

Crista Granroth, EUAM Adviser / Trainer on Criminal Investigations became a keynote speaker of other two webinars, dedicated to interviews children in criminal proceedings. They were delivered this week for prosecutors of Donetsk region and judges of Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kirovograd and Zaporizhzhia regions.

“Child victims’ rights and needs are not additional to the investigation or pre-trial and trial process; they are in fact at the core of the whole process”, said Crista Granroth while presenting to participant best practices in child interviewing of her home country, Finland.

The EUAM expert also elaborated on the NICHD (The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) protocol, which is an internationally used protocol for the investigative interviewing of children. Crista Granroth also highlighted that police officers investigating suspected crimes against children in Finland must be especially trained.

EUAM plans to assist the National Police of Ukraine in Kharkiv region to equip a special room for conducting interviews with children in accordance with best international practices.