Specialized courts move beyond the traditional justice system by taking a problem-solving approach for dealing with unique offenders and criminal justice issues.
The Ministry of Justice works with the Judiciary to support specialized courts that focus on healing, holding offenders accountable, involving the community, and achieving better justice outcomes.
Government is working with interested communities to explore specialized courts as an innovative and effective way for the justice system to deal with community challenges.
- There are five types of specialized courts in British Columbia: Domestic Violence Courts, First Nations Courts, Victoria Integrated Court, Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver, and the Downtown Community Court.
- Domestic Violence Courts (DVC) operate in Nanaimo and Duncan, take a collaborative approach by bringing together various community service providers and government agencies to help individuals resolve issues. DVCs in Kelowna and Penticton are considered docket courts and are primarily designed to increase efficiency rather than achieve therapeutic outcomes.
- The Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver deals with non-violent offenders whose offences are motivated by addiction. By pleading guilty, offenders opt into the drug court’s treatment program and sentencing is deferred until completion of treatment.
- Downtown Community Court (DCC) operates in Vancouver and integrates justice, health and social service agencies to hold offenders accountable while also intervening with services and supports that will make them less likely to offend again.
- Victoria Integrated Court combines justice, health and social services for offenders who plead guilty and demonstrate a willingness to address substance abuse and/or mental disorder, unstable housing and other underlying causes of their criminal activity.
- First Nations Courts operate in Duncan, Kamloops, North Vancouver and New Westminster and make decisions on bail and sentencing for Indigenous offenders who plead guilty and seek to acknowledge and repair the harm done to victims and the community.