Victims of Crime Research Digest No. 9


Welcome to Issue 9 of the Victims of Crime Research Digest. The articles in this issue examine the important role of survivors and victims in the criminal justice system—a topic echoed in “The Power of our Voices,” the theme of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week 2016 (May 29th – June 4th).

The primary objective of the Federal Victims Strategy is to give victims and survivors a more effective voice in the criminal justice and federal corrections systems. Those who work with victims and survivors of crime have long recognized that the trauma of experiencing or witnessing a violent criminal act often causes serious consequences, including impaired cognition. These consequences can be mitigated, however, so that victims and survivors can play a strong and effective role in the criminal justice and federal corrections systems. The four articles in this issue address various ways to achieve this goal.

The first article explores the trauma- and violence-informed approach followed by colleagues from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the University of British Columbia. The article reviews the research that fosters a deeper understanding of the impacts of trauma and underpins a better approach to the delivery of victim services and programs. In the second article, Susan McDonald explores aspects of the right to information, which is now included in the Victims Bill of Rights. McDonald suggests that the trauma-informed approach explored in the first article should be followed to fulfill the right to information for victims of crime that is now enshrined in Canadian law. The third article is by Shanna Hickey, who describes research done by the Department of Justice, in collaboration with Pamela Hurley and the Ontario West Region Crown Office and Victim Witness Assistance Program, about the use of close-circuit television (CCTV) with young witnesses testifying in criminal trials. The article presents the results of an online survey of Crown prosecutors and victim-services workers about their experiences with CCTV. In the final article, Dr. James Hill, a clinical psychologist from Victoria, BC, explores how vulnerable witnesses can use the power of their voices to get the counselling and support they may need. As always, the Digest also includes a list of victim-related conferences scheduled for this year.

We hope this issue of the Victims of Crime Research Digest helps all of us who work for and with victims and survivors of crime to better understand the importance and the power of our voices. As always, if you have comments, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Susan McDonald
Principal Researcher
Research and Statistics Division

Gillian Blackell
Senior Counsel and Director
Policy Centre for Victim Issues