The Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service formerly known as Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) was established in October 1998 as a Specialized Unit within the Ghana Police Service formed in response to the increasing number of reported cases of abuse and violence against women and children.
However, the Unit’s name (Women and Juvenile Unit) was perceived by a lot of Ghanaians as a place where only women and children could go and report cases or seek redress. As a result, men who were victims of domestic violence felt reluctant to patronize the services of the Unit. In order to make the Unit open and accessible to all victims of domestic violence, its name was changed to DOVVSU in 2005.
DOVVSU is expected to, among its numerous functions:
- provide free services to members of the public
- protect the rights of the vulnerable against all forms of abuse, be it physical, sexual, emotional/ psychological, socio-economic, or harmful cultural practices; establish an effective database for crime detection, prevention and prosecution.
- treat victims/complainants and their families with respect and courtesy.
- take statements in a professional manner.
- provide victims with information on their cases as well as details of the investigations.
- provide advice on crime prevention at homes, in schools, churches and markets. The Unit also refer victims for medical services and specialized help to clinical psychologists.
- social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and counselors attached to the Unit.
- DOVVSU in addition is expected to collaborate with NGOs and other civil society organizations that may be able to offer assistance to victims in need of necessary support services.
VISION: To create an environment where domestic violence and other forms of abuse would be freely reported and to collaborate with stakeholders to provide coordinated timely responses to victims.
MISSION: To prevent, protect, apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence and child abuse.
- Investigate all offences related to Vulnerable Groups;
- Handle cases involving Gender-based Violence including Domestic Violence and child abuse.
- Handle Juvenile offences.
- Prosecute all these offences where necessary.
- To educate the public in general about the fact that all acts of violence are crime, irrespective of the victim involved.
- To educate women, children and other vulnerable persons who form the majority of DOVVSU’s clientele of their rights, in order to reduce the fear in reporting cases of abuse.
- To empower women to take informed decisions through counseling.
- To enable children to be heard on issues concerning their welfare.
- To bring perpetrators to book.
- To partner with other agencies to meet the needs of survivors of abuse through building of Support Networks for effective Protection System.
The legal frameworks currently informing and guiding the Unit include the 1992 Constitution of Ghana; the Criminal Offences Act (Act 29) 1960; the Criminal Code (Amended) Act, 1998 (Act 554); the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560); the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653); and the Domestic Violence Act, 2007(Act 732).