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Police & Court Support
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Self-referrals to the PACS Program
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Hours of police, court & crown accompaniment

A notable impact of COVID-19 is the shared experience of isolation that affected our communities.

As such, this past year it was instrumental to strengthen connections with clients and community partners. Police and Court Support engaged in purposeful networking and collaboration to reduce the impacts of this ongoing challenge.

Police and Court Support adapted to the shift in client needs by providing ongoing support as clients responded to additional, unexpected stressors as a result of the pandemic, while simultaneously navigating the significant delays in the criminal justice process. PACS provided regular check-ins, resources, materials, referrals, and coping strategies to clients over the last year.

Police and Court Support has continued to network with a variety of community partners to ensure that clients are not being lost within existing service gaps amplified by the pandemic. We enhanced coordination of services with police-based and community-based victim services organizations, police, Crown, and community agencies.

PACS also collaborated with CPLEA (The Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta) to develop new resource materials for the community.

COVID-19 Impacts

Police and Court Support (PACS) service delivery was met with various challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. A temporary suspension of in-person services was extended, and PACS services transitioned to digital service delivery (phone, video, email).

Court matters experienced considerable delays as a result of COVID-19, which compounded onto pre-existing delays that the Courts had already been experiencing. Clients are subsequently waiting much longer than usual to have court matters addressed, extending their experience in the criminal justice process. This has resulted in PACS clients needing support for longer periods of time. The constant changes and updates from Alberta Courts have also created confusion for clients. Police and Court Support addressed these challenges by maintaining regular contact with clients, providing ongoing clear and simplified information about court updates and procedures, as well as liaising with clients and Crown Prosecutors about the status of their files and the implications of delays (for example concerns about Jordan’s Principle applications). PACS provided ongoing emotional support for clients navigating their trauma symptoms, engaging in care and coping strategies to support clients through extended waiting periods and connecting clients with meaningful resources and referrals to various organizations to address specific needs outside of police/court matters.

Client Testimonials

“It was so helpful to have you at court with me, thank you for the support”  

“Felt less fear when reporting”  

“Thank you for the support, PACS is a lifesaver”  

“I appreciate the warmth and kindness”  

“Thank you so much for letting me know you are still here for me for support, it means so much”  

Counselling Chairs

Impact Stories

A prevalent theme in the overall impact of the Police and Court Support program is that it helps clients feel heard in their experience, while also supporting opportunities for clients to vocalize their experience in a meaningful way. This has been a common thread with clients who have experienced historical sexual assaults. One PACS client shared that they did not report their experience for several decades, as it did not feel safe to vocalize it: sexual violence was not openly discussed on a larger scale, and the weight of shame felt even heavier during that period of time. This client expressed that the existence of PACS services made it feel more manageable to speak about their experience openly, which felt healing for them, while also receiving assistance to get through the criminal justice process.

There are additional considerations for people who have experienced sexual violence and are going through the court process. The lack of control over the prosecution of their file and outcome can cause additional frustration and harm. PACS provides information and support to clients about the existing opportunities in the court process where a client can vocalize their experience and the impacts, including a Victim Impact Statement. One PACS client accessed this service and later provided feedback about their journey of writing and presenting a Victim Impact Statement at the time of sentencing, advising that it was both emotional and empowering to share the impacts of the harm out loud in a courtroom. This client expressed feeling moved, as they witnessed firsthand how the judge considered their words and the effect it had on the sentencing decision. They articulated that it was a powerful moment for their healing, thanked PACS for the ongoing support, and advised that they have continued to use their voice beyond the courtroom by sharing their own experience of participation in this process while encouraging others to consider completing Victim Impact Statements.

Nicki Reid (she/her)
Police and Court Support Advocate

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