Juveniles should not be considered as criminals and the police should adopt different strategy while handling juveniles, said judicial officers who spoke at the day-long training programme for the designated juvenile welfare officers and child welfare officers, organised by the District Legal Services Authority on Thursday.

P. Velmurugan, Principal District Judge and Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority, spoke on the provisions of the juvenile justice rules and the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child. The judiciary and the police are committed to implementing juvenile justice care and protection Act in its letter and spirit. The programme aimed at sensitising the designated officers to providing alternative measures oriented towards reformative aspect of the juveniles.

T.V. Thamil Selvi, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sethu Madhavan, Labour Judge, and A. Murugesan, president of Tiruchirappalli Bar Association, spoke on various aspects of the juvenile justice.

V. Thilaham, Principal Sub-Judge and secretary of the District Legal Services Authority, underlined the role of police officers handling juveniles. Investigation should not be under threatening or coercive environment.

Citing several cases, including a murder case, she said that only a special care and compassion towards juveniles would reveal the real facts. The reluctance of father and mother to follow juvenile counselling measures hindered reformative measures.

The police should not brand the juvenile as ‘criminals’ or ‘rowdy elements’ and desist from displaying their photographs at public places, she said. Even an escape from a home would not warrant any criminal case against a juvenile, she said to drive home the extent of juvenile justice. A sympathetic approach to the core including ensuring some economic activity or job opportunity would bring about a total transformation in the behaviour of the juvenile.

Police officials should despatch a telegram to the parents for ascertaining the address and native place. “In a majority of cases, the district police have not adhered to this stipulation,” she said. Ms. Thilaham also advised the police to verify whether the guardians abetted the juveniles for committing the specific crime. “Oft-repeated cases for a specific crime indicate the handiwork of these guardians for the misuse of innocent juveniles,” she said.

S. Martin, a rights activist, said that the police should utilise the services of advocates for delivering juvenile justice. The District Legal Services Authority would depute a lawyer to protect the juveniles’ rights.

In all, 71 police designated juvenile or child welfare officers from the police stations in Tiruchi district and the railway stations in Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam districts underwent the training, according to S. Dhanabal, senior administrative assistant of the Authority.

Sumathy Nagarajan, counsellor, spoke on ‘child psychology’, and M. Padmavathi, member of Juvenile Justice Board, on ‘social aspects’.