They are just two of the Pediatric Reception Unit for Children in Danger (UAPED): legal aid dogs play a role that is little known and very useful. A few months ago, the Forensic Medicine Unit (UMJ) at Saint-Lô Memorial Hospital Center in Manche adopted Ravel, a two-year-old black Labrador. Ravel worked with both the unit’s psychologist and investigator. Its mission is to accompany and support children and adolescents who are victims of violence during their hearing.
The dog Ravel in free speech
Each year, 250 minors are interviewed inside the medico-judicial unit in Saint-Lô. In the legal process, it is important for these children that revealing their word is not an additional trauma. The presence of a dog like Ravel is valuable for victims of criminal offenses, in all actions in legal proceedings. The dog company causes a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate in the victims. Ravel was specially selected and trained to accompany and morally support children during their hearings and during examinations conducted at the judicial institution within UMJ.
A tightly trained legal assistant
Ravel was pre-educated from the age of two months and up to eighteen months in a foster family to acquire the standard of cleanliness and the standard of education. He then integrated special training until he was two years old, provided by the Handi’Chiens association, where special instructors completed training tailored to his future missions. Ravel was chosen by Handi-Chiens because of his calm and his ability to understand people. He knows how to hide his sputum in all situations, not to react (beep) when there are tensions that appear during a legal action (disturbance, raising of voice). It was one of the psychologists in the medico-judicial unit in Saint-Lô who housed Ravel in his home.
A new project
The Ravel project is a new project supported by the Ministry of Justice but also by the association of Handi’Chiens and La Voix de l’enfant, which pays for food and care at Ravel’s veterinarian.
In Canada and the United States, nearly 250 legal aid dogs are deployed in more than forty states, while in France there are six in total, two of which work in a Pediatric Reception Unit for Children in Danger. (UAPED). . UAPEDs are units combined with medico-judicial units.
“Ravel has attended a hundred hearings since he joined the team, explained Emilie Morançais, psychologist within the medico-judicial unit. His presence allows children to relax, to be more comfortable with the player. interview. After their audition, the children revealed that Ravel’s presence by their side was very useful. One girl even told us that without him, she would not have succeeded in testifying. »
The Saint-Lô forensic unit: caring for victims at the center in a comprehensive manner
The quality of reception and care of victims within the medico-judicial unit of the Saint-Lô hospital center is a concern that manifests itself through several mechanisms:
2010: making UMJ involved in setting up a free access to victim consultation.
2015: creation of UAPED with “Mélanie” hearing room equipment equipped and arranged to encourage word collection of minor victims.
2018: creation of the ENVOL protocol that allows for easier filing of complaints, especially in the context of domestic violence.
2019: create a videoconference -protected confrontation system that allows parties to face off without being physically connected. This is an area primarily dedicated to collecting the words of minor victims, and more importantly all victims in a vulnerable situation. Designed warmly and confidently, this space is equipped, the accused can be heard in the gendarmerie, at the police station or in court. Confrontation is necessary for the collection of evidence and the smooth running of the judicial process.
2022: acceptance of Ravel, Legal Assistance Dog to support and accompany minor victims during their hearings.
Therefore, the Ravel project is part of a global approach to improving the care of victims. By 2019, the unit has created a protected confrontation room.
At La Manche, the medical and justice institutions work in a positive synergy.