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Police & Court Support
third-party and self-referrals to the PACS Program
client sessions
new and continuing clients

The Police and Court Support Program supports people who have experienced sexual violence through information, advocacy, accompaniment, and emotional support in navigating, or considering navigating, a criminal justice response.


All Police and Court Support Program (PACS) services are client-led and reflective of the needs of each individual. Clients can access the program regardless of where they are at in the police and court process. Our advocates help clients identify goals and expectations, present unbiased information and options, and speak about expectations and outcomes as they specifically relate to the client’s own healing and recovery. In addition to providing information, PACS also assists clients in managing the impacts of trauma while navigating the complex nature of victimization and secondary victimization. Emotional support, coping/care strategies, and resourcing/referrals are offered at every point throughout the process. PACS also coordinates and collaborates with program partners to ensure client needs are being met. This includes policing agencies, court officials, Crown prosecutors, correctional services, and other non-profits or Victim Services (locally referred to as Crime and Trauma-Informed Support Services) Units. All PACS services are provided at no cost to the client.    

The SACE Police and Court Support Program provides regular check-ins, informational resources, police and court forms and materials, referrals, and self-care strategies to clients. They also provide accompaniment and advocacy for clients at court, police detachments, meetings with the Crown prosecutors, and liaise with other professionals. Each of these interactions is provided with compassion, and creates space for the client’s emotional needs.

Program Reporting Priorities: Where Have We Been and Where Do We Go Next  

The Police and Court Support (PACS) Program has continued to establish itself as a formal program within the Clinical Department. Program reports to date have consistently reflected program development activities, the growth of collaborative relationships necessary to build community awareness, and the number of clients accessing the program. Reporting on these elements has allowed us to indicate the necessity of this program for our community. Sharing information on the structure and functioning of PACS has allowed the program to successfully develop role clarity to support both a client’s experience, and staff wellness.    

The qualitative experiences of PACS clients have, up to this point, been less frequently reported. In the last year, an informal qualitative and quantitative outcome measurement tool was developed to gather feedback from clients. Due to the length of time that it can take for clients to move through police and court processes, gathering feedback once a client has completed PACS services results in infrequent opportunities to collect data. This unfortunately reduces the ability of PACS to benefit from client feedback. In the coming year, the PACS program plans to increase the number of points in the program that clients will be asked to share feedback. This will create increased opportunities to address concerns, incorporate feedback into ongoing program development, and should ultimately lead to greater breadth in PACS program evaluations and reporting.

Moments of Learning

The PACS Team Lead is an active participant in SACE Police File Advocate Reviews. This collaboration with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) sees SACE staff members welcomed to review all sexual assault files that do not move forward to charges each quarter, at EPS Headquarters. Feedback on these files is shared with the Sexual Assault Section (SAS), who then distribute information and feedback across the EPS. Through these conversations we learned that the scope of PACS services could be better communicated to police members. To address this, the PACS Team Lead developed an information sheet that has been made available to police members via their internal resource network. Information about the PACS program can now be easily accessed and distributed by patrol members responding to sexual assault calls.   

The development of the partnership with EPS has created many opportunities for collaboration over the last year. Through conversations stemming from the Police File Advocate Review, a SACE Clinical Director and the Sergeant in the SAS collaborated to develop a presentation speaking to the ways that trauma may present for individuals impacted by crime, as well as simple strategies to support regulation when taking a witness statement. A pilot of this presentation was offered in the spring of 2023 with plans to incorporate feedback and offer a second pilot in late 2023. The invitation to observe and offer feedback on an Alberta Investigative Skills Education Program (ISEP) Cognitive Interviewing Course also created an opportunity for the Clinical Director, Child and Youth Services to co-present portions of the course focused on perception, bias, trauma, and false memory. She has been invited to return to collaborate on this portion of the course in Fall 2023.

hours of consultation, case management, and advocacy
hours of police, court, & crown accompaniment
people received support but did not open a client file

Police and Court Support Program Development Highlights 

This year the PACS program has undergone continued development. The scope of the program was defined to support individuals over the age of 16 navigating criminal justice or civil matters related to sexual violence occurring within Edmonton and the surrounding area. Defining the scope of this program was important, as diverse matters from multiple regions were beginning to come to the program and proved to land outside of the scope of PACS advocates. Policies were also put in place to support program staff to navigate instances in which clients may express threats of violence, instances of domestic violence, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. While situations such as these do not occur often, ensuring that there are procedures in place supports staff capacity to respond confidently should they arise.  

One of the challenges experienced by the PACS program is a lack of access to the Justice Online Information Network (JOIN). Accessing JOIN would allow for PACS advocates to directly view information pertaining to criminal charges and all pending court appearances, thus being able to efficiently and effectively update clients as to the status of charges and changes to court dates. An application has been made to the Office of the Solicitor General for PACS to gain access to this program. It is our hope that this application will be approved and clients will experience less delay in accessing court updates. While the PACS program waits to hear back regarding this program, a number of informal community partnerships allow advocates to access updates as quickly as possible.  

Police and Court Support: Community Impact  

PACS is a part of the Alberta Specialized Police and Court Support Network. In early 2022 the network was nominated for the 2022 Community Justice Award in Service Enhancement through Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, and in May the network was named the recipient of this award. This nomination and award reinforces the importance of specialized police and court supports for people who have experienced sexual violence.

The first step on the journey of a police and/or court process is often taken by oneself. The decision to commence a legal process can appear as one of the first visible outcomes of a client’s internal decision-making, which may have been underway for days, weeks, months, or even years. Because PACS exists as a community-based Victim Service program, it is independent of any institution in the community. This creates a unique opportunity for PACS to meet clients where they are at, as the program is open to anyone even if they have not yet commenced a police and/or court process. This fills a significant need in the community, as many clients feel they need additional information and support in order to make an empowered choice about whether or not to take that first step. By providing a flexible combination of information, support, and advocacy, the PACS program can be there when a client takes their first step, when they decide not to, or when they finally walk out of a courtroom for the last time. No matter what a client decides, if they are supported through PACS they won’t have to make that decision alone. 

Clients have shared the following comments about the Police and Court Support program:

“I think it’s an amazing service, the court system does not make things easy for victims and the court support really helped me feel more in control with what was happening.”

“Police and Court Support Advocate [PACSA] was wonderful and exactly the kind of support I needed. Thank you to the whole organization for everything you’re doing to support victims of sexual assault.”

“I only wish I had reached out to SACE before my local resources.” 

My Advocate was such an amazing resource, especially for the court preparation and role play of defense tactics. This was extremely helpful for me!

“It would have been way worse if [PACSA] wasn’t there… I knew the statistics…”


Download the latest PACS resource.

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