It's Victims and Survivors of Crime Week and the theme this year is the Power of Collaboration.
WOODSTOCK - It is Victims and Survivors of Crime Week across Canada.
Locally, Victim Assistance Services of Oxford County or VASoc is taking the lead to raise awareness about the issues facing victims and the survivors of crime. VASoc is a local non profit charitable organization that assists police and other emergency services in providing emotional and practical support to victims and survivors of crime, tragic circumstances and disaster. They are hosting a number of events to commemorate Victims and Survivors of Crime Week.
Executive Director Kate Peters explains what it means to be a victim.
"To be a victim is to know fear, know shock, anger, confusion and quite possibly grief. To be a survivor is to feel the fallout of all those emotions. Every victim’s path to this point is unique and is not always direct. Some people may live with the scars of being a victim for years and years, but this journey is not one they need to go alone. When a crime occurs, it doesn't affect just one person, but their family members and the entire community."
Peters says the theme of the week is the Power of Collaboration.
"Our community is connected, our community cares. No individual, no victim should be left behind. Many victim service providers, police officers, and professionals working in the criminal justice system assist victims and survivors of crime and their families. Victims and survivors of crime need to know that they have a voice in our criminal justice system and that there are laws in place to help them."
Victims Bill of Rights
An Act Respecting Victims of Crime – Victims’ Bill of Rights, was proclaimed as law on June 11, 1996. The Act supports and recognizes the needs of victims of crime.
The Act includes a set of principles that guide how justice system officials should treat victims at different stages of the criminal justice process.
The principles stipulate that victims:
· Are treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their personal dignity and privacy
· Have access to information concerning services and remedies available to victims
· Have access to information about the progress of criminal investigations and prosecutions and the sentencing and interim release of offenders in custody
· Are given the opportunity to be interviewed by police officers and officials of the same gender as the victim, when that victim has been sexually assaulted
· Are entitled to have their property returned as promptly as possible by justice system officials, where the property is no longer needed for the purposes of the justice system (for example, to carry out an investigation, trial or appeal)
· Have access to information about the conditional release of offenders from custody, including release on parole, temporary absence, or escape from custody
· Have access to information about plea and pre-trial arrangements and their role in the prosecution.
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