A UBC law professor is calling for mandatory training in victim's rights for all Canadian judges, police and criminal prosecutors.
Prof. Benjamin Perrin's recommendation is a key takeaway from a three-year study he conducted into victims of crime.
He believes every single criminal justice participant, at all levels, needs to understand the complicated issue of victim rights — and currently the knowledge is lacking.
"You can have the best victim services team, the best police officers, the best Crown prosecutors ... But if just one of them drops the ball, the whole case falls apart," he said.
Perrin is the author of Victim Law: The Law of Victims of Crime in Canada and he said his research has uncovered a trend of victims not reporting crimes to law enforcement.
Speaking with guest host Angela Sterritt on B.C. Almanac, Perrin said victims are often hesitant to report crime because they do not trust police in their community, they are afraid of publicity or they don't have faith in the criminal justice system.
His research includes a report from Statistics Canada that showed less than one-third of alleged offences are reported to police.
"When we look at the 2.2 million Canadians who suffer violent crime every year, it's overwhelmingly marginalized groups," said Perrin.
"Aboriginal Canadians, members of the LBGTQ community, young people, women ... Traditionally politically disenfranchised groups — so their interests really have been given no notice," he said.
'An issue of trust'
Perrin said a reworking of the justice system needs to happen so victims feel confident reporting crimes to law enforcement. This includes educating law enforcement officials about the obligations they have to victims.
He said a huge issue is victims thinking justice will not be served, whether from cases being thrown out because of long delays — or by questionable views such as the one that led to the resignation of Federal Court Justice Robin Camp.
Perrin cited cases from his research where proper forensic analysis had not been done because officers had lacked necessary knowledge surrounding rape kits. He also pointed to critical flaws in the way sexual assault trials are carried out.
Perrin said respecting the rights of an accused person is integral to the criminal justice process in Canada, but it can't be done in a way that excludes and alienates a victim.
With files from B.C. Almanac
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: UBC prof. calls for justice system reform