Victims and witnesses of crime now have a single point of access for information to support their needs.
The Service has launched a central information site aimed at providing links to resources for victims and witnesses of crime.
“This is part of the new victim and witness strategy to promote systemic responses and standardized procedures,” said Constable Patricia Hung, who played a key role in shaping the strategy. “We want to give victims and witnesses of crime, who many times are traumatized and not thinking straight, a simple way to get information.
“They feel they don’t want to necessarily identify as a victim. This is an easy way for them to get information they need in a safe environment.”
Constable Laura Langdon was instrumental in devising the strategy before joining Crime Stoppers.
“There are many great resources in Toronto for victims and witnesses of crime, but many people would not know where to begin to access them or that they even exist,” she said.
“TPS Connects links victims and witnesses of crime directly to the websites of the agency whose assistance they need by navigating the site for them and reducing the clicks. Frontline officers are key in providing the information on this portal and using it to inform themselves. Providing this valuable resource information will empower victims and witnesses to move forward.
Providing this valuable resource information will empower victims and witnesses to move forward
Deputy Chief Peter Sloly said the launch of the website, as a one-stop referral for frontline officers and the community is another demonstrated advancement the Service has made.
“When I took over this command, one of the first things I wanted to do was to create a more formal program around victim and witness support,” he said. “One of the things I have seen over the course of my 25 years is that, while we are really, really good at preventing crimes and investigating and catching those people who created those crimes, we are less consistently good in terms of identifying specific needs of victims and witnesses and many times the victims are the key witnesses in those cases.
“So, not only are we undermining the effectiveness of the prosecution, but also the community’s confidence in us to support them in their state of ‘victim-hood’ while we are pursuing the prosecutions in court.”
In December 2009, Kenneth Mark was shot outside a west-end pizza shop after courageously testifying that Lamar Skeete and a young person had tried to murder him with a shotgun blast to the back.
Just 12 days after both men were cleared by the court, Mark paid the ultimate price, with his life, for coming forward. Skeete is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. His accomplice, a young person, was also found guilty of first-degree murder.
Mark’s murder was the catalyst for the establishment of a Victim Witness Support Advisory Committee that was mandated to bring Toronto police and various community organizations together to devise mechanisms to improve support to victims and witnesses
“Kenneth Mark was the critical one for me as it touched on all those areas and then some,” Sloly pointed out. “It touched on the missing piece of giving our frontline officers the ability to support victims and witnesses and therefore the ability to prevent future crimes and victimization.”