What Happens When a Victim or Witness of a Crime has Capacity Issues?


December 2022

Does this present a barrier to accessing justice? How can criminal justice system professionals help support capacity? The BC Law Institute and Canadian Centre for Elder Law (“CCEL”) hope to answer these questions in the Supporting Vulnerable Victims and Witnesses project (“Project”).

In 2009, the Provincial Strategy Document: Vulnerable Adults and Capability in British Columbia (“Vanguard project”), recommended criminal justice system professionals create policies to support this population. CCEL updated the Vanguard project in 2021. There was little to no progress on this recommendation.

The Project seeks to fill this gap. It will consist of two parts:

  1. Research on existing policies of Crown Counsel, police, victim services, and other professionals on vulnerable victims and witnesses. This section will compare British Columbia’s policies with policies in other provinces across Canada and other countries.
  2. A model policy framework and list of best practices.

Feedback from key informants working with vulnerable victims and witnesses will inform both the research and model policy framework. CCEL will finish this project in early 2023. For updates, please refer to bcli.org. The BC Council to Reduce Elder Abuse has made this work possible with their generous funding.