They have also been urged to work in the best interest of the children, who fell in conflict with the law by ensuring their rights were not trampled upon.
At a capacity building for Social Welfare Officers in Wa, Mr Peter Maala, the Upper West Regional Coordinating Director, noted that children were at risk of being abused by the police during arrest since they might not be able to determine the ages.
“There are some people you see and think they are old while others look like children when you see them. So there is the tendency of the police abusing children because they are unable to determine the age of such children,” he said.
He, therefore, called for proactiveness by the officers to intervene in such circumstances to help safeguard the child from abuse.
Mr Maala entreated the Social Welfare and community development officers at the district level to work in unison towards achieving a common goal.
Madam Lillian Kpelle, the Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare, said the training was to equip the officers with skills and knowledge in probation to enable them to function effectively.
She explained that all the districts and municipalities with traditional court systems had probation officers and said they must regularly update their skills to be effective.
Madam Kpelle said children who came into conflict with the law were expected to serve non-custodial sentences at the community rather than taken through the traditional custodial system.
She said the officers were expected to sensitise the communities they served to help reduce the tendencies of children coming into conflict with the law.
They were also to ensure that the juvenile was not subjected to the traditional court system, she said, adding: “It is only juvenile courts that can adjudicate juvenile cases”.
Mr Biliguo S. Enoch, the Hospital Welfare Officer at the Social Welfare, said probation officers ought to be abreast of the justice system to enable them to deliver professional services.
He urged them to upgrade their knowledge in the legal and policy frameworks that sought to protect the interest of children, including the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560) and the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child.