Victims and Justice
According to Juristat and Statistics Canada, around 11,000,000 crimes are committed each year. Of these, only a small percentage (approximately 3%) of victims receives any kind of response from the formal justice institutions. This is as a result of a number of factors, including low levels of police notification, limited policing resources, limited victim’s services resources, and a systemic bias away from responding to victims’ needs in ways that victims experience as helpful. Where institutions fail to respond, or simply don’t know they need to, faith communities often step in. As ready built communities of care, Churches already access significant human, systemic, and financial resources, and are a much needed link in Canada’s response to victims of crime.
The simple shift of focus and resource to responding to victim’s needs is a significant innovation for many faith communities. Some have been doing work in this area, but in isolation, and without adequate resources and interaction with others doing similar work. Up until now, however, there has been no nationally guided and resourced effort made to equip, inform and encourage the pastoral care of victims of crime.
The impetus to develop a pastoral care for those affected by crime initiative came out of a board meeting discussion relating to a community symposium on Victims and the Church in Ottawa in May of 2007. One of the many outcomes of this symposium was to begin working towards equipping churches to take a more active and helpful role in responding to crime victims and others affected by crime in their communities.