Legislation and Policy
There are several legislated acts and policies that help to govern the treatment of victims in the criminal justice system. These include the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Crime Victim Assistance Act (CVAA), Violence Against Women in Relationships (VAWIR) policy, and the Referral Policy for Victims of Power-Based Crimes. For more information, see below.
Victims of Crime Act
The Victims of Crime Act provides victims with the following rights:
- to be treated with courtesy and respect by all justice personnel, without discrimination
- to receive information on the justice system, victim services and related legislation
- to receive, on request, certain case-specific information regarding police investigation, prosecution, sentencing and release of the offender
- to be given a reasonable opportunity to provide victim impact information for presentation to the court before sentencing of the offender
- to receive independent legal representation, provided free of charge where they cannot afford it, if an application has been made for disclosure of their personal records
Complaints about compliance with Victims of Crime Act can be made to the Office of the Ombudsman (www.ombudsman.bc.ca).
Did you know . . . A 15% victim surcharge is added to fines imposed for federal and provincial offences. Funds collected are paid to the Victim Surcharge Special Account. Expenditures from the Victim Account must be used to further the objectives of the Victims of Crime Act. Funds are used to support victim services and initiatives and to provide an annual contribution to the British Columbia Neurotrama Fund. For more information see the Victims of Crime Act, Victim Surcharge Levy Regulation.
Crime Victim Assistance Act
Under the Crime Victim Assistance Act, victims injured as a result of certain crimes, immediate family members of an injured or deceased victim and some witnesses may be eligible for financial assistance or other benefits. For a list of general benefits (e.g., medical services, dental services, counselling services) and who may qualify see 161/2002 - Crime Victim Assistance (general) Regulation. For a list of income support and vocational services or expenses benefits see 162/2002 - Crime Victim Assistance Regulation.
See also Financial Assistance and Other Benefits page on this website.
Violence Against Women in Relationships Policy (including Protocol for Highest Risk Cases)
The Violence Against Women in Relationships (VAWIR) policy directs the justice and child welfare systems to emphasize the criminality of violence within relationships and to take the necessary measures to ensure the protection of women and children who may be at risk. This policy relates to the continuum of violence that occurs in relationships. It applies to a range of criminal activities from harassing telephone calls or mischief to aggravated assault.
For more information, see the Violence Against Women in Relationships – Policy Document (Including Protocol for Highest Risk Cases) – December 2010
Referral Policy for Victims of Power-Based Crimes
The Referral Policy for Victims of Power-Based Crimes is intended to ensure that victims of power-based crimes are referred as soon as possible to the appropriate Victim Service Program to receive assistance. “Power-based Crimes” refers to violence in relationships (e.g., adult, youth, or child), sexual assault, criminal harassment, child abuse, or family violence. The Referral Policy for Victims of Power-Based Crimes is supported by in provincial and police force policy including the Ministry of Attorney General’s Violence Against Women In Relationships Policy (VAWIR), the RCMP “E” Division Policy, and Municipal police department policies.
The policy states that victims identified as victims of violence in relationships will be referred to the appropriate community-based Victim Service Program. This is to ensure that victim’s safety and increases the likelihood of the victim/survivor’s cooperation with the criminal justice system. Community-based Victim Service Programs are located in community agencies and are mandated to support all victims of power-based crimes. In some communities there are specific programs for women, children, youth, male survivors of sexual abuse, Aboriginal peoples or ethno-specific communities.
For more information, see the Referral Policy for Victim of Power-Based Crimes: Family Violence, Sexual Assault, and Criminal Harassment