Court Support Program
Critical Incident Response
- Respond to requests from police to provide initial incident defusing, provide critical incident stabilization and act as a liaison between victim and emergency personnel.
- Respond to hospital requests and act as a liaison between victim and hospital personnel.
- Identify and address the immediate emotional, safety and logistical needs of victim.
- Provide information regarding the immediate and post-incident impacts of crime and trauma.
- Provide information regarding next steps or actions to be undertaken by the police.
- Coordinate with appropriate parties.
- Make referral to community–based victim service program.
Criminal Justice System - Information and Support
- Provide information to victim about their rights under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).
- Obtain, provide and/or arrange for victim to receive case-specific information.
- Provide information about the criminal justice system process and the roles of key parties.
- Assist victim to engage with justice system personnel (i.e., police, Crown counsel).
- Arrange, facilitate and/or accompany victim to meetings with criminal justice system personnel (i.e., police, Crown counsel, corrections staff).
- Support and prepare victim for the criminal court process, including reviewing with victim whether they may require testimonial accommodations; initiate conversations with Crown counsel regarding victim participation in the court process; prepare victim for possible emotional responses to court proceedings and/or testifying; and provide victim with court orientation.
- Provide victim with information regarding options for travel expenses to court and assist with facilitating these processes and arrangements.
- Accompany victim to court and provide related emotional and practical assistance.
- Provide information about and assistance with Victim Impact Statements.
- Provide support to victim upon conclusion of the case, ensuring victim is aware of and understands the outcome and has access to the necessary follow-up resources, including registration for victim notification and referral to other community supports.
- Upon initial contact with victim, assess, identify and address victim’s immediate and emergency safety needs.
- Develop and continue to update safety plan with victim, including coordination with community and criminal justice system partners.
- Provide general safety and crime prevention information and referrals to community resources.
Practical and Emotional Support
- Provide emotional support to assist victim in coping with the impact of crime and trauma.
- Assist victim with the completion of forms (i.e., Crime Victim Assistance Program application, Victim Impact Statement and victim notification registration).
- Assist victim with accessing transportation services, including (but not limited to) hospital, court, police, transition house and/or shelters.
- Assist victim with accessing shelter, financial assistance and/or social services.
- Provide or facilitate other types of practical support and assistance.
Information and Referral
- Provide referral information about Ministry of Justice supports, including victim services, Victim Safety Unit, Crime Victim Assistance Program, stopping the violence counselling, children who witness abuse counselling, and outreach and multicultural services.
- Provide information regarding child protection/MCFD, social services, health services, counselling services, housing services, mental health services, community resources, crime prevention, financial benefits, Attorney General services (including family justice counsellors) and other resources.
Networking, Public Awareness and Education
- Host and/or participate in victim-related events.
- Provide public education and promote awareness regarding victim issues.
- Inform other community services about the services available to victims of crime.
- Develop and maintain a network with criminal justice system personnel (including police, Crown counsel, court services, corrections and sheriffs) and social service and other community organizations (including transition houses, hospitals and family justice resources).
Victim Services has a special program available to victims and witnesses who are involved with criminal court cases. The program is intended to provide information and emotional support to ensure that a victim’s rights are protected.
The program was designed and by a former defence counsel from the U.S. and is supervised by a previous long-term volunteer and staff member. Specially trained volunteers are available to work with clients to explain the intricacies of the criminal justice system, to help ease people’s fears about testifying, to provide ongoing information about the progress of a case, to accompany the witness (and family members) to court, if requested, and to assist in filling out an effective Victim Impact Statement (which is used by the judge in determining an appropriate sentence). Volunteers liaise with Crown counsel, often working as part of a team. As well, they are available to provide information about parole hearings, and they have attended hearings with clients as well as in their absence as representatives.
Clients have provided feedback saying that the volunteers have made the experience much less stressful and have expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the hands-on and ongoing support they have received from Victim Services throughout the entire process.
“One never knows when tragedy can strike. When it does, one can only hope to find the resilience to get through it in one piece and be stronger as a result. It is people like you, with your kindness and consideration, who are helping to ease the pain.” A Former Client