The Role of Crown Prosecutors in Child Advocacy Centres in Canada


Through interviews with Crown prosecutors across Canada, current CAC and Crown arrangements were explored, as well as the challenges and benefits of Crown/CAC collaborations. A semi-structured interview script was developed in collaboration with the Department of Justice Canada (see Appendix).

It targeted three primary topics:

  1. current Crown/CAC relationships,
  2. perceptions of what may make ideal Crown/CAC relationships, and
  3. the perceived impact of CAC implementation on children and the investigative process.

All CACs across Canada were approached and asked to identify one or more Crown prosecutors with whom they had a close relationship. All identified Crown were then contacted for potential participation. All Crown who responded to queries were interviewed either in English (n = 11) or in French (n = 4). The final sample comprised 15 Crown prosecutors who were interviewed by telephone. These interviewees had been Crown prosecutors for an average of 15.25 years (range 6-30 years), and had been working with vulnerable victims and witnesses for an average of 12.58 years (range 2-30). In addition, British Columbia provided a written summary response from the province (representing the collective experience of six CACs).

Table 1. Number of Crown Prosecutors interviewed per jurisdiction
Yukon British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario Quebec Nova Scotia TOTAL
1 Written response 4 2 1 2 4 1 15

Two approaches to interview coding were taken. First, responses to each question were reviewed to identify common response themes for each question. Responses for 12 interviews were then coded independently by two of the authors to obtain intercoder agreement. One of the initial coders coded the remainder of the interviews. Agreement exceeded 79% for each individual question, with overall agreement of 87%. All disagreements were resolved through discussion and consensus was reached for the remaining interviews and the written BC response. Second, themes that were not captured fully in the coding of individual questions, and those that were observed across multiple questions, were extracted to form broader themes from the interviews.

Not all questions were answered by all interviewees and not all responses were codeable, thus the number of responses reported for each question do not always sum to the total number of interviewees. For questions involving numerical data and perceptions, the written response provided by BC was most often excluded due to a lack of specificity. Finally, for cases in which multiple Crown were interviewed from a single CAC, only one response was selected for inclusion in counts of standard practices (e.g., “Is the Crown officially part of the MDT?”).