Victim/Witness Assistance Program
The mandate of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program is to provide information, assistance and support to victims and witnesses of crime throughout the criminal court process, in order to improve their understanding of, and participation in, the criminal court process.
The primary goals are:
- to enhance victim/witness understanding of and participation in the criminal court process;
- to assist the victim/witness to regain a sense of well-being; and
- to ensure coordination with community support structures for the assistance of victims of crime.
Services to clients can be divided into four main categories:
- provision of information on cases before the courts to victims and witnesses to keep them up-to-date on the current status of the cases;
- familiarization with the criminal court process and support services to directly assist victims and witnesses to participate effectively in the criminal court process while protecting their rights and well-being;
- community coordination of services for victims of crime; and
- community education about the Program and the operation of the criminal court system.
Victim/Witness Assistance Program services are available to victims and witnesses of crime after charges have been laid. Most services terminate upon disposition of the criminal case. Although the program is open to all victims or witnesses, it offers services on a priority basis to those who have been most traumatized by the crime. Consequently, most of the Program’s clients are victims of crimes of violence, such as partner assault, sexual assault, child abuse, elderly victims, and families of homicide and traffic fatality victims.
In Chatham, the Victim/Witness Assistance Program began in March 2003. The Victim/Witness Assistance Program works in partnership with the Crown Attorney’s Office and the police on domestic violence programs such as Bail Safety Project and domestic violence court initiatives.
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