Victims In The Criminal Justice System

Law And Legal Issues
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Despite being one of the most comprehensive and effective criminal justice systems in the world, the Canadian criminal justice system is thought to be unfair to the victims. In particular, it is argued that the system ignores the fundamental needs of the victims. Criminal victimization, for instance, is one of the major challenges that the justice department has been dealing with from time immemorial. However, even the current Canadian criminal justice system is yet to eradicate victimization completely. Aside from tainting the overall image of the Canadian justice system and reduces its reliability in the face of the citizens, victimization is detrimental to the wellbeing of the families of the victim, the victims, and the entire society. The instant, and probably major impact, is that as a result of the gross ignorance for the victims’ rights they become reluctant to report their victimization and participate in the justice process. Failure of the victims to participate in the justice system undoubtedly has adverse culminating effects throughout the realm of justice and the associated systems in Canada. Even in the face of the quagmire, it is noteworthy that the criminal justice system has made greater in ensuring a fair and just system for all the parties involved.

Services and programs available for crime victims in Canada

In light of the researchers’ and justice experts’ concern for the level of effectiveness of the Canadian justice system for victims of crime, numerous services have been instituted to help seal the existing loopholes and work for the betterment of both the victims and the accused. Berard, Vacheret and Lamire (2013) notes that these services not only covers the victims but also their families and friends; and, may be financial or psychological depending on the evaluation of the experts. The services and programs are classified into domestic violence court programs, legal services, help for young (child) victims, victims crisis assistance as well as witness/victim help program. Financial services and programs include criminal and injuries compensation services, victim quick response program, and the famous vulnerable victims and family fund. Other services include the victim services award of distinction. In all these services, Berard et al. (2013) assert that teams of highly professional individuals work together to investigate and facilitate the process of case execution more efficiently while supporting the victims either psychologically or financially. However, it is noteworthy that provision of these services differ from one province to the other.

Role and rights of victims in the Canadian criminal justice system

Victims, just like the other parties in the criminal justice process, play a pivotal role in the search for, and attainment of justice. According to Collins (2016), a victim in the Canadian criminal justice system has four primary rights namely right to information, protection, participation, and seek restitution. Concerning right to information, Collins (2016) posits that the victim has an inalienable right of seeking more details about the justice system, available services, progress of their cases, and the details and status of the accused (person who caused them the harm).  Berard et al. (2013), however, notes that this right is often not guaranteed fully basing on the view that providing the victim with more information on the case may compromise the process of justice. The victim also has a right to protection which implies that the responsible arms of the justice system should consider the privacy and security of the victims with a view to protecting them against unprecedented harm, retaliation or passive intimidation. The right to participation comprises the ability of the victim to provide the court with victim impact statements for consideration in the course of the process. They could also provide any necessary information appertaining to their rights vis-à-vis those of the accused. Finally, the victims’ right to seeking restitution allows them to make an appeal to the court to look into their financial losses and have any due amounts paid through the help of a civil court.

Analysis of the system and recommendations

As Omand (2017) reports, there is a need for a ‘shock therapy’ to overhaul or carry out major reforms on the Canadian justice system both with reference to the victims, and other parties to the justice process. The ‘shock therapy’ in this case figuratively implies a drastic yet dramatic action that will address the entrenched weaknesses fully. According to Omand (2017) the debate on the necessity of reforms in the Canadian criminal justice system has been gaining momentum in the recent past thanks to the serious problems that the justice system present to the victims of crime in their quest for justice. Primarily, notwithstanding the claims that victims’ needs are ignored in the justice system, the above discussion reveals that they (victims) have an upper hand compared to the accused.  Few justice systems, for instance, allow the accused to obtain as much information as the Canadian criminal justice system allows for the victims (Berard et al., 2013). This reveals a critical imbalance between the rights of victims and the accused. However, while there is an overdue need to balance between the rights of the victims and the accused, this end will be challenging to achieve given the structural requirements of justice, for instance, the need to avoid a delineation from the course of justice as a result of injunctions from the accused. The current rights and freedoms framework for the victims in the Canadian criminal justice system seems to be too elaborate to call for further adjustments. Improving the rights of the victims is highly likely to work to the detriment of the accused while there is already a need to balance between the rights of the two parties. Nonetheless, the criminal justice system should pay greater attention to the rights of the victims by allowing them to fully exploit their current rights provisions. As earlier noted, such rights as that to information are largely restricted making the system seem less efficient. Expanding the scope of the existing body of rights for the victims, rather than increasing the pool of rights, will go a long way in ensuring holistic consideration of the victims in the Canadian justice system.

The current victims’ services and programs, going by the statistics, seem to be working for the betterment of the system (Collins, 2016). However, they need a bit of ratification for them to fully support justice for the victims. Omand (2017) decries a culture of complacency in the dispensation of the services and programs. On that note, every party to the justice process should work together with a goal of ensuring effective and expedited dispensation of the services. Similarly, the provincial programs should be reviewed and the best set made applicable to the entire nation for uniformity, unlike in the current case.


Conclusively, while the Canadian criminal justice system continues to improve the welfare of the victims, more remains to be done. The existing services and programs have had greater impacts in ensuring the effectiveness of the system and restoring its validity from the standpoint of researchers and legal experts who think that the system is ceasing to be reliable. In as much as the victims are set to benefit, there is still a need to balance between their rights and those of the accused. To this end, I would like to reiterate the need for allowing the victims to fully exploit their current body of rights. It is the only way of making the victims construe fair treatment from the criminal justice processes and increasing their level of participation in the system’s processes.









Bérard, F., Vacheret, M., & Lemire, G. (2013). Risk Management in the Correctional System of Canada: A Problematic Model. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice52(3), 251-271.

Collins, R. E. (2016). ‘Beauty and bullets’: A content analysis of female offenders and victims in four Canadian newspapers. Journal of Sociology52(2), 296-310.

Omand, G. (22 March, 2017). B.C.'s top judge says system needs 'shock therapy' to improve access to justice. The Canadian Press.



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Essays Stock (2024). Victims in the criminal justice system. Essays Stock.

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