Like individual victims of crime, communities can now submit impact statements for the court’s consideration during the sentencing of convicted offenders.
In support of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, the Province has introduced a Community Impact Statement Program that will enable the courts to admit – and judges to weigh – statements about how a particular offence has impacted the community. Like the victim impact statements that have long been part of sentencing, community impact statements will describe the emotional, physical and financial impacts of an offence on a community.
Under the new program, a community representative, such as a local organization, civic government, religious organization, or First Nations community, may prepare a statement on behalf of the people who live and work in the affected community.
The statement can describe harms endured or losses suffered, which could include:
- Local or regional economic impacts
- The emotional toll on community members that resulted from hearing about and responding to the offence.
- Details of how the offence has limited or curtailed community members’ access to a particular facility or service.
Once an accused has been found guilty of an offence, the court will take the community impact statement into account during sentencing, assuming it meets the criminal code requirements for admissibility. The presiding judge will decide whether a statement meets those standards and how much weight to afford the statement.
Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General –
“Too often, communities as well as individuals are left to pick up the pieces after a criminal act – whether it involves vandalism, another property crime, or violence. When prolific offenders are released into the community and they re-offend, it impacts local businesses and the people who live there. This new program gives the community a chance to be heard. It gives members a collective voice when their city, town, or organization otherwise may have been a silent victim. ”
Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice –
“Our criminal justice system takes the voice of individual victims of crime into account during sentencing. The Community Impact Statement Program takes that one step further by allowing communities and groups within communities to have their say. This gives judges one more important perspective to keep in the balance when determining an appropriate sentence.”
- Individuals with questions about completing this form can call 1-844-660-5343 or ask a victim service worker for assistance.
- Individuals can also email VictimLink BC at: VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca
Learn about Resources for Victims of Crime including VictimLinkBC: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/victims-of-crime/victimlinkbc