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April 24, 2007

National Victims of Crime Awareness Week

FREDERICTON CNB - The Department of Public Safety marked the beginning of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week with the launch of two initiatives aimed at recruiting volunteers and providing aids for assisting vulnerable victims to testify in court. Information about the initiatives was recently published in materials developed by the department working in partnership with Public Legal Education and Information Service (PLEIS-NB).

"This year's awareness theme - Listen to Victims - is important in helping us to understand that participating in the criminal justice process can be a traumatic experience for anyone, especially for younger victims," Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General John Foran said.

"We need to be more aware of ways we can help victims. While support programs are already in place, additional services have been added making it easier to testify."
Foran said that new infrastructure is now in place to allow for closed circuit testimony via a TV monitor. Screens are available, as well, that can be placed in front of a vulnerable victim who is testifying in the courtroom.

"The victim cannot see the people in the courtroom, except the judge, but the people in the courtroom can see them," he said. "This helps create a situation where the witness feels less intimidated by not having to see the accused."

The Department of Public Safety has also established a process to recruit and train volunteers to appear in court to support victims, helping them to feel more comfortable as they give testimony.

"Volunteers provide important assistance to victims of crime as their cases proceed through the criminal justice system," he said.

"These new services will enhance the range of existing programs already in place to provide information and support to vulnerable victims. As we move toward self-sufficiency, we will ensure that New Brunswickers are treated fairly and that their rights are protected."