Multi-Site Survey of Victims of Crime and Criminal Justice Professionals across Canada: Summary of Police Respondents
KEY INFORMANT INTERVIEW GUIDE POLICE OFFICERS
The Department of Justice Canada has recently launched a multi-site study of victims of crime and criminal justice professionals. The main objectives of this study are:
- To provide information on the use and awareness of recent reforms with respect to victims of crime in the criminal justice system
- To identify any impediments to the implementation of recent reforms by criminal justice professionals
- To learn what information is provided to victims throughout the criminal justice process
- To gain a better understanding of the experiences of victims of crime in the criminal justice system and with various victim services.
The following questions address issues relating to the role of the victim and the police in the criminal justice system, victim services, and the implementation of recent reforms to assist victims of crime through the criminal justice process.
The role of the victim
- 1. In your opinion, what role should the victim have in the criminal justice system? In particular, please consider the police investigation, and bail decisions.
The role of the police
- 2. In your opinion, what responsibility do police have with respect to victims?
- 3. Do you generally maintain regular contact with victims of crime throughout the investigation? Do you generally provide information to victims regarding victim services, court dates, outcomes of court processes (in particular bail determinations and conditions), and victim impact statements?
- 4. Does responding to victims' needs and requests impede your police work? If so, what suggestions do you have for balancing the needs of victims with your time and resource constraints?
- 5. What victim services or other community support services are currently available in your province for victims of crime? (PROMPT: police-based victim services, crown-based victim services, specialized victim services for domestic violence, sexual assault or children)
- 6. Do you generally refer victims to these services or other services? If yes, which ones?
- 7. How do you stay informed about services available to victims of crime?
- 8. Please describe the extent to which the police and victim services work together or share information. Does your department/division have a policy for allowing victim services to access victim files? Is the policy formal or informal? Please describe the policy.
- 9. What are the challenges, if any, faced by victims of crime in accessing victim services? (PROMPT: geographic location - e.g., urban vs. rural; language barriers; physical barriers - e.g., access to persons with disabilities; financial barriers; services not culturally sensitive; services do not respond to needs of both genders.) In your opinion, what changes could be made to increase the accessibility of services for victims of crime?
- 10. In general, do you think that victims are provided with adequate information on:
- the progress of the investigation
- outcome of bail or conditional release determinations
- conditions of release
- date and location of court proceedings
- charges laid
- charges dropped
- victim impact statements
- the ultimate outcome of the case
- the criminal justice process
- alternative processes, such as diversion or restorative justice
- accused's rights
- victim services
- community support services?
For each of the above, who would be in the most suitable position to provide victims of crime with this type of information? (PROBE: Victim services, police, crown, other)
- 11. What, if anything, can be done to improve the information given to victims? Are there any difficulties in providing victims of crime with the information that they require? Please explain.
Recent reforms relating to victims of crimeAs you may know, a number of legislative changes at the federal level have been made relating to victims of crime and their participation in the criminal justice system (victim surcharge, victim impact statements, consideration of victim safety in bail decisions, assistance to victims testifying at trial, publication bans, etc.). The following questions address issues relating to the implementation of these provisions.
- 12. How do the police ensure that victims' safety concerns are considered at bail determinations? Do you generally ask victims about their safety concerns prior to any bail determination?
- 13. To your knowledge, do victims usually submit victim impact statements? What about in serious cases? Do police assist victims with their victim impact statements? If yes, what kinds of assistance are provided by police?
- 14. To your knowledge, are there any obstacles to the use of victim impact statements? If yes, please explain. How can these best be addressed?
- 15. Do the police have procedures in place to ensure that a victim's stolen or seized property is promptly returned? Please describe.
Restorative justiceRestorative justice considers the wrong done to a person as well as the wrong done to the community. Restorative justice programs involve the victim(s) or a representative, the offender(s), and community representatives. The offender is required to accept responsibility for the crime and take steps to repair the harm he or she has caused.
- 16. Have you ever participated in any restorative justice processes, such as a healing circle, etc? Why or why not?
- 17. At what stage in the process have you participated in restorative justice? (pre-charge, sentencing, other)
- 18. How is the victim involved in the decision to use restorative justice? Please explain.
- 19. Do you believe that police officers are adequately kept informed of changes to the Criminal Code that are intended to benefit victims of crime? If not, what could be done to better inform police officers?
- 20. In your opinion, what has been accomplished by the Criminal Code provisions intended to benefit victims? Have there been any unintended consequences to these provisions? Please explain.
- 21. Do you have any other comments?
Thank you for your participation.
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