Victim services, provided in a timely manner, play an essential role in reducing the harmful effects of victimization and re-victimization.
The objectives of the RCMP Victim Services Program are to:
From a call for help, to the investigation of a crime, to an offer of a referral, police work in close partnership with victim services organizations to ensure victims of crime receive the support they need without delay.
The RCMP’s victim assistance policy and referral process was recently re-designed to allow pro-active referrals in specific situations. This means that the police will be permitted to pass on a victim’s information to a victim services organization in cases where a victim is unable to provide their informed consent. The policy recognizes that the victim service worker, as the trained professional, is the best person to explain the services they can offer. The policy also ensures a balance between a victim’s privacy concerns and their right to receive these services.
Previously, RCMP officers required consent from a victim before providing their information to victim services personnel, who would then contact the victim and offer their services. It is widely accepted that victims are not always in a position to provide informed consent at the time of an incident. This may be as a result of trauma, the nature of the crime they have suffered and/or their current state ie. unconscious or alcohol or drug involvement. The new policy allows RCMP officers to conduct an assessment of each situation to determine if conditions exist for a proactive referral to be made.
The specific circumstances in which a proactive referral can be made are limited to: person’s offences (eg. assault), serious property offences, high-risk victims (eg. domestic violence), vulnerable sector and in exceptional circumstances where a police officer believes it would be in the victim’s best interest for a referral to be made.
If the victim chooses not to use the available assistance, no further contact will be made. However, they will be encouraged to contact victim services should they change their mind in the future.
The personal information that can be disclosed to victim services is limited to information necessary for victim service workers to safely and effectively make contact with the victim to obtain consent. The safety of both the victim and the victim service worker is paramount and therefore the information that can be disclosed in a proactive referral includes the victim’s name, address, telephone number, gender, age and language preference. A brief summary of the circumstances of the incident and information such as the presence of drugs, alcohol or firearms may also be shared.