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Victim Services is a police-based support unit providing services to victims of crime, with a focus on victims of domestic violence, sexualized violence and serious crimes. The Unit is comprised of civilian employees and volunteers who work with police members.
Once officers have responded to a crime and ensured the physical safety of all involved, Victim Services may be called to assist with non-policing issues, such as emotional support and referral information. Sometimes we may be asked to stay with a victim while officers gather information or take a statement. The Unit's role is to work collaboratively with police officers to assist victims of crime.
Research shows that intervention during a crisis period is a good predictor of change. This is a primary principle behind the Early Intervention component of the Victim Services Unit.
Any person who has been the victim of a crime may use the services of the Victim Services Unit. Services are both proactive and reactive when contacting victims of crime. The Unit screens police reports on a daily basis, accepts referrals from police officers and responds to victim inquiries.
Part of the reason behind the development of the Victim Services Unit was the introduction of legislation in 1996 from the Department of Justice in Nova Scotia, which has become known as the pro-arrest, pro-charge policy regarding domestic violence.
This policy states that in the investiation of domestic violence, police officers must lay charges where there is reasonable evidence that an offence took place. It was also recommended by the Department of Justice that policing agencies provide assistance to the victims of domestic violence through the provision of victim services or victim assistance programs.
The Rehtaeh Parsons case led to the Victim Services Unit proactively responding to the victims of sexualized violence.
The program is staffed by a civilian coordinator, a civilian caseworker, two domestic violence case coordinators and volunteers.
Like victims of crime, staff and volunteers come from all walks of life, bringing with them a variety of interests, life experiences and expertise. Their time, commitment and energy is essential to the provision of service to victims of crime, and intimate partner/spousal abuse in particular.
Staff and volunteers are provided opportunities to participate in training activities relevant to the criminal justice system, policing and the social service community. We strive to ensure the provision of highly trained and skilled volunteers to work with police officers and victims of crime.