JustResearch No. 14

Message from the Director of the Policy Centre for Victim Issues

The theme of this year's National Victims of Crime Awareness Week is "It's Time to Listen." To mark the week, I am pleased to introduce this special issue of JustResearch, dedicated to victims of crime research. Research is one way to incorporate victims' voices on many issues in the criminal justice system.

The Victims of Crime Initiative (VCI) is the response of the Department of Justice Canada to the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights Report Victims' Rights - A Voice Not a Veto. Established informally in late 1999, with funds provided in 2000, the Initiative was initially given a five-year mandate, which was renewed for another five years in December 2004. The Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI) was established to fulfill this mandate.

The overall objective of the VCI is to improve the experience of victims of crime in the criminal justice system by:

  • ensuring victims and their families are aware of their role in the criminal justice system and the services and assistance available to support them;
  • enhancing the capacity of the Department of Justice to develop policy, legislation, and other initiatives that take into consideration the perspectives of victims (act as a "victim's lens");
  • increasing the awareness of criminal justice personnel, allied professionals, and the public about the needs of victims of crime, legislative provisions designed to protect them, and the services available to support them; and
  • developing and disseminating information about effective approaches both within Canada and internationally to respond to the needs of victims of crime (become a centre of expertise).

At PCVI, we are proud of the progress that has been made towards achieving these objectives. At the same time, we are cognizant that much more needs to be done.

Policy research is an integral part of the Victims of Crime Initiative.It has been demonstrated that research informs and bridges the gap between the questions and issues faced by the Department of Justice, the Department's decision-making processes for developing legislation, policy, and programs, and the current and future needs of the Government of Canada and its responsibilities to the Canadian public. Supporting and undertaking research enables us to identify and explore issues of concern for victims and their families, victim service providers and other criminal justice professionals and to identify gaps and areas where more work is required.

In Canada, the body of research on victim issues is growing, but there remains much data to be collected to further our understanding of criminal justice processes, expectations, perceptions and needs. This special issue of JustResearch highlights some of the advances that have been made for victims within the criminal justice system.

Catherine Kane
Director and A/Senior General Counsel
Policy Centre for Victim Issues

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