Supporting Vulnerable Victims and Witnesses: Project Update
October 18, 2022
BY Alison Wilkinson
The Canadian Centre for Elder Law is conducting a one-year project with the goal of completing a model policy framework to support victims and witnesses of crime with capacity issues. To reach this goal, CCEL staff are interviewing victim service workers, police, Crown Counsel, designated agencies, defence counsel and other professionals working with this vulnerable population. In addition, CCEL is investigating best practices across Canada and in other countries around the world.
Key informant feedback
At this juncture, CCEL has completed most of the key informant interviews. Individuals from a range of professions and provinces have contributed their time and insight to this project. CCEL thanks these incredible participants for their passion and knowledge. These individuals have shared creative ideas and key insights to guide our research and the policy framework.
Key informants have stated how timely and necessary this project is. Some emerging themes include:
- There is a lack of training on victims with capacity concerns. Key informants have indicated that capacity related training is about perpetrators and not victims. In addition, training often overlooks dementia.
- Communication is a challenge. Communication across professions is a major limitation to collaboration across the justice system.
- There are few policies directly addressing this population. Most professionals said there is a complete absence of policies on vulnerable victims and witnesses with capacity issues. While there are policies that indirectly apply, there is a lack of clear direction about how to support this population.
- Skills for supporting vulnerable populations are transferable. Many of the promising practices included in the Inclusive Investing project, for example, are directly applicable to criminal justice professionals.
CCEL is still seeking Crown Counsel and police to interview. If you are interested in this topic, please contact Krista James, National Director at [email protected].
What comes next?
The research and interviews are well underway. The next stage of this project is to complete data analysis on the interviews to identify key themes. Following this, CCEL will seek feedback on the model policy framework from those working in the field. This is to ensure a functional and realistic final product.
CCEL aims to complete this project in the spring of 2023. For more on this project, please see the project page on the CCEL website.