It was welcome news when Inspector Scott Tod attended the recent Annual General meeting of Victim Services and reported, “Overall we have seen a 12 % decrease in personal offenses that includes assaults and robberies and criminal harassment threats. In property offenses we have seen a 0.7% decrease in property crime but the most notable in that category is the 30 % decrease in break and enter and 11% decrease in vandalism. Overall, our crime rate for the City has decreased by 2.6%. We are moving in the right direction”.
He then reported the ‘bad news’ for Victim Services. “The bad news is spousal abuse in the City is up 7% or 180 from 168 in 2011 and 48% or 40 from 27 in the County.” Inspector Tod concluded by saying, “I’ve only been here a couple years but overall I think it’s a safe community”.
These stats have a direct impact on Victim Services. When there is a crime, there is a victim. Referrals to Victim Services have increased by 19% in (to 330) in the City and 34% (to 107) in the County. The good news is that assistance is available for victims of crime or tragedy through Victim Services, a society comprised of the Wetaskiwin Municipal RCMP and Rural RCMP, in partnership with the Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services Society.
The President of Victim Services, Dan DeWolf responded to the report. “Although we don’t know the reason for the spousal abuse stats going up, the role of Victim Services is to help and to support those experiencing that kind of abuse. We can speculate that part of the increase can be attributed to better reporting processes? Or that maybe a younger population is more willing to come forward and seek assistance? Regardless, Victim Services is prepared to deal with those kinds of experiences and help them to understand the responsibilities that go with life and specifically, help those that have had criminal activities committed against them.”
Executive Director, Jeannie Blakely is grateful to, “the RCMP and the loyal number of volunteers that step forward every year to assist with providing a wide variety of services to victims in need.” Some of the services offered are crisis intervention, counseling and community agency referrals, court support , public presentations on services and crime prevention, police-liaison, family violence unit, information on prevention of re-victimization, critical incident stress management and support and mentoring for new coordinators. They (the volunteer Advocates) are well trained and there 24/7 offering a free and confidential service.”
RCMP Inspector Tod talked about how valuable the RCMP/Victim Services partnership is during times of accidents or tragedies. He commended Victim Services as a partner and the Advocates specifically for being available to assist the victims enabling his officers to deal with what they do best conduct the investigation of the crime or tragedy.
The victims and the services described by Victim Services
A crisis or a trauma is an experience so severe or unusual that the mind cannot assimilate or master it in the usual way. Effective crisis response must first meet the basic needs of the victim. Part of this process means being able to talk about the experience and begin to plan for the future and re-establish support systems. Post-trauma assistance helps survivors re-build their coping strategies, reduce acute stress and restore their ability to adapt to the stresses of everyday life. Crisis intervention is short-term.
During the investigation and court process, victims of crime can receive information from Victim Services about the investigation and protection orders; the criminal justice process, court, hearings, trials and dispositions; Victim Impact Statements, Financial Benefits, and Restitution, and where to get help in the community. Victims Services also assists victims by providing court orientation, court accompaniment and witness preparation and probation/parole information.
Other practical services are also available. Some examples might include assistance to call family or friends; emergency transportation, shelter, food; information on what is happening and what will happen next; medical assistance; safety planning; referral to other sources of immediate assistance; temporary child care; home security check.”
The victims of crime, disaster, accident or emergency can suffer from devastating memories of the event for days, weeks, months or even years after the event. Victim Services in Wetaskiwin has helped many victims and their families get their lives back on track.
If you, or someone you know is experiencing family violence or trying to cope with a tragic experience, reach out knowing help is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Call the listing under Wetaskiwin/RCMP/Victim Services at 780-312-7287.
Victim Services looking for new people
Jeannie Blakely, Executive Director of Victim Services, Wetaskiwin sends out an appeal. “Because Victim Services relies so heavily on volunteers, we are always looking for new people to assist us in the community. You can make a positive difference in the lives of those who have been affected by crime or tragic circumstances by joining a dedicated team of Victim Services Advocates. Without the caring, commitment and hard work of our volunteers, our program would not exist. Our volunteers give their time for a wide variety of reasons and come from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. The only common factors we require are empathy and a genuine willingness to be there for someone in need. We will provide all the necessary training and skill building.”