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April 25, 2006
For immediate release
Attorney General Recognizes First National Victims of Crime Awareness Week
Office of the Attorney General
“Justice means different things to everyone,” said the Attorney General. “However, to victims and survivors of crime, justice means that they are treated with respect; they are listened to and actually heard; they will have a voice in vital decisions made in relation to their case; and offenders are held accountable for their crimes.”
A Statistics Canada study completed in 2004 found that 28% of all Canadians aged 15 and over – more than one in four adults – had been victimized by crime in the previous year. That number accounts for only those crimes reported to police; the same study suggested that up to two-thirds of all crime goes unreported. “When crime occurs, it affects the entire community,” Minister Dover continued. “Family, friends and neighbours feel its impact. Many of us know someone who has been victimized or we may have been victimized ourselves.”
In Prince Edward Island, services for victims of crime were established with the proclamation of the Victims of Crime Act in 1989, and the Victim Services Advisory Committee was established to provide advice to government on issues related to victims of crime. Ms Dover outlined the services provided in the province to address the needs of victims, including the need for information about the status of the investigation and court proceedings, information about the justice system and how it operates, assistance in preparing for court, emotional support and counselling, referrals to other agencies and services, assistance in preparing victim impact statements, information to help recover financial losses resulting from the crime, and protection under the Victims of Family Violence Act.
Victim Services Workers across the province provide assistance to victims and survivors of crime, and work closely with police and other partners in the justice system and community to support victims in the aftermath of crime and throughout their involvement in the criminal justice system. In 2005, more than 1,100 Islanders were referred to Victim Services. Of these
∙ more than 300 were victims of wife abuse;
∙ 90 were victims of other family abuse; and
∙ 55 were victims of sexual abuse, more than half of whom were under the age of 20.
The remainder were victims of other crimes such as robbery, break and enter, assaults, thefts, criminal harassment, and other personal injury or property crimes.
Advances have been made in the past 10 years to strengthen the voice of victims in the criminal justice system, Attorney General Dover stated. She explained that the interests of the victim must be considered when a police officer, judge or justice of the peace makes a decision about whether to detain an accused person. Victims of crime also have the right to submit a Victim Impact Statement, and the law obliges judges to consider these statements during the sentencing portion of criminal matters.
Minister Dover reiterated governments commitment to addressing and advancing victim issues and recognized the dedication of victim service providers, police officers, professionals working in the justice system and community agencies, and individual volunteers who work to support and assist victims of crime and their families in our province.
“As individuals and members of the community, we can help by recognizing the impacts of crime, volunteering to assist victims, referring victims to available services, and being a source of personal support for victims of crime,” she added.