Alberta, Canada – When a crime occurs that affects you, it is comforting to know that support is available in your area. Last year, victim service programs responded to 54,118 new cases of crime or tragedy; 45% of them involved assistance to victims of violent crimes. These valuable services are provided by the 76 individual police-based victim service programs across the province serving 126 RCMP Detachments and Municipal Police Services.
National Victims of Crime Awareness Week (Victims Week) is held each year. The goal of Victims Week is to raise awareness about issues facing victims of crime and about the services, programs and laws in place to help victims and their families. This year’s Victims Week was this week (April 19-25). The theme for Victims Week 2015 is “Shaping the Future Together.”
APBSVSA has partnerships with police, justice, women’s shelters and the RCMP. Lori Rehill is the APBSVSA president and the Executive Director of the Airdrie and District Victims Assistance Society. She says most Albertans know someone who has become a victim but, unfortunately, for every victim that comes to their local victim service program for support, hundreds suffer in silence and don’t seek help.
“Behind every headline you read is a person, a family, a community affected by crime or tragedy. Operating behind the scenes is also a network of volunteers offering services, support and resources.”
Rehill encourages those persons who feel they have been victimized to come forward since empathy for victims is an essential value of the association.
“Despite all our efforts, some victims of crime or trauma and their families may not be fully aware of all the services and benefits they may be eligible for. Some may initially refuse services without being fully aware of the benefits to them and their healing.”
With over 76 Victim Service Programs across Alberta, anyone who has become or knows someone who has become a victim of crime and tragedy is encouraged to contact his or her local victim services for information and support. To find your local victim service unit go to the Alberta website at http://victimservicesalberta.com/
Foothills Area Victims Services
Foothills Regional Victim Services (FRVS) provides assistance to victims of crime and/or tragedy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Working in partnership with the RCMP Detachments of High River, Okotoks, Turner Valley and Nanton, FRVS assists residents and visitors in the Foothills area. The goal of FRVS is to limit the impact of crime or tragedy through information, referral, support, assistance, community liaison and education.
The Alberta Police Based Victim Services Association (APBVSA) is the largest, exclusively police- based victim services association in Canada. The association is governed by a 17-member board. Membership includes all 76 individual victim service programs serving 126 police and RCMP detachments. The detachments are:
– Calgary Police Services
– Edmonton Police Services
– Lethbridge Regional Police Services
– Medicine Hat Police Services
– Camrose Police Services
– Lacombe Police Services
– Taber Police Services
– Blood Tribe Police Services
Over the past three decades, Canada has made significant advances toward shaping a future where victims are treated with courtesy, compassion and respect while navigating the criminal justice system.
Alberta was an early adopter of the victim services model. Across cities, towns and rural communities throughout the province, there are 126 police-based, victim service programs offering much-needed empathy, practical support, court support and connection to services that victims of crime and tragedy need to help them on their journey of healing.
Victims, their families and Alberta communities have been positively impacted from the volunteer efforts and co-operation with the criminal justice system in providing these essential services. Since its inception, APBVSA has helped people who may be have lost a family member to a tragic accident; have experienced domestic violence; had thoughts of suicide; survived sexual assault; or lost a loved one to murder.
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General oversees the administration of the Victims of Crime Act that came into force in 1997, and that replaced the Criminal Injuries Compensation and Victims Programs Assistance Acts to consolidate assistance and other services to victims under one Act. It established the authority to collect surcharges on provincial statute offences, defined principles respecting the treatment of victims and introduced financial benefits for victims.
Staff and volunteers with victim service programs ensure that victims are advised of their rights to apply for Financial Benefits and/or Restitution and also to submit Victim Impact Statements.
Under the Act, federal and provincial fine surcharge revenues are deposited into the Victims of Crime Fund. All programs and services delivered by Victims Services Branch are fully supported by revenue from the Victims of Crime Fund and not from taxpayer dollars.
In 2013-14, a three-year pilot project was established to provide funding to programs that benefit children who are victims of sexual exploitation or other criminal offences causing physical or mental harm.
Volunteers are extensively prepared through manuals and online training. In addition, specialized programs and training are initiated when a need is identified. For example, a pilot project for Aboriginal victims of crime who reside on-Reserve or in a Métis Settlement has received an additional five years of funding. (The three Victim Services Programs receiving the funding are St. Paul and Area, Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council and Lac La Biche.)