The Family Support Units (FSUs) are specialised units attached to police stations across Sierra Leone, with a mandate to investigate all forms of child abuse and violence against children (sexual and physical abuse, exploitation, including commercial exploitation, as well as internal and cross-border trafficking). The Family Support Units also have a mandate to investigate allegations of sexual and domestic violence, as well as commercial and other forms of exploitation against women and vulnerable members of society. Some of the activities that the Family Support Units carry out are as follows:
- investigation of alleged child sexual violence and abuse cases;
- gathering evidence for prosecution of the alleged perpetrator;
- referrals for medical assessment and treatment of victims, when the Family Support Unit is the first point of contact and there is no medical report;
- giving advice on the process of investigation and prosecution to children/victims and their families/care givers.
The Family Support Units have a partnership with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs in an effort to combat all forms of abuse against children and women. A social worker of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs should be located in the Family Support Units, in line with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Sierra Leone Police and the Ministry, being responsible for referrals for, or direct provision of, psychosocial care and legal advice. There are currently 41 Family Support Units across the country.
Source of Information
Response of the Government of Sierra Leone to the questionnaire on violence against women 2010