The Kelowna RCMP Victim Services Unit
2023-05-05 10:04 PDT
Every time a crime is committed there is a victim(s) on the other end.
The Kelowna RCMP Victim Services Unit, provided by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, is the calm that comes to the storm in that person’s life following a crime or traumatic event. Each of the four-members in the unit within the Kelowna Regional Detachment are trained, experienced and passionate in what they do. The team is always ready to assist in the complex files that come across their desks.
By definition, Victim Services provides emotional and practical support, criminal justice information and support, safety planning and information and referrals for victims and witnesses of crime and trauma.
The RCMP can call on the Victim Services team in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident. Once an officer can assess a situation and the needs of those affected, the police will refer those in need to Victim Services for follow-up support.
Over the last few years, the rate of victimization within the community has grown, reflecting the rapid growth in the Central Okanagan. The victim service unit has seen an almost 50% increase in files over the past five years. The unit can track the increase of files back to the beginning of the opioid crisis which served as a tipping point with several tragic sudden deaths.
Incredibly the victim services unit dealt with 1,150 files in 2022, with 63% of those being police-based mandated files which means they stay with the team out of the Kelowna detachment. Early statistics in the first quarter of 2023 indicate that it will be another very busy year for the unit.
The team works hard to assess the social and community needs of an affected person, as well as assess the safety of a victim. Victim Service workers provide referrals to additional community resources and continually advocate that a victim’s rights are upheld. Every file is unique, and every person has different needs. Some files can be opened and closed in one day, while others can be held for much longer especially if the file is proceeding through the criminal court process.
The work of victim services can have a meaningful impact on a victim’s life and the victim services unit acknowledges it is a privilege to be part of someone’s post traumatic growth and healing journey. The unit bears witness to the power of human resiliency daily which is often a reminder to the team that the work they do matters.
In British Columbia there are two different victim services units. The first are the police-based units that are embedded in the detachments like the one in Kelowna, which provides support to victims of crime or trauma across the Central Okanagan. The other is typically an organization from within the community with a focus on domestic violence.
The Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society is an example of this community-based unit and assists with intimate partner violence, sexual violence and child abuse, while all other incidents are handled by the police-based unit. Many of these files and incidents include, but are not limited to, sudden deaths, assaults, suicides, homicides or attempted homicides and traumatic motor vehicle incidents. The police-based unit also provides support for those impacted by non-criminal code matters such as natural disasters. In any file that may have a victim that has been traumatized, they can be referred to victim services who will then primarily provide emotional support.
If a file is proceeding through the criminal court process, the victim services unit will provide on going court updates, court orientation’s and provide assistance with Victim Impact Statements. Victim Services, provided in a timely manner, play a critical role in reducing the harmful effects of victimization and re-victimization and can increase victims’ participation in the criminal justice system.
If you are the victim of a crime or a traumatic event and in need of support, you can contact the Kelowna RCMP detachment and the Victim Services Unit for more information at 250-470-6242.
To learn more about the police-based victim service unit please visit:
- The Regional District of Central Okanagan
- The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
- Police Victim Services of BC
For additional information visit:
Ryan SencarKelowna RCMP
1190 Richter St, Kelowna, British Columbia V1Y 6V7
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