Ensuring Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Crime
Violent crime has declined in Canada during the past few decades, but the issue remains a priority for many Canadians. This concern has fuelled billions of dollars in spending by all levels of the Canadian government, leading to increases in criminal justice and community-based programs. Crimes of intimate partner and domestic violence have been a key target of these reforms because these victims have not, historically, had equal access to justice.
As Canada Research Chair in Public Policy in Criminal Justice, Dr. Myrna Dawson is trying to find out if any of the changes have made Canadians safer. Specifically, she will be looking at the growth of domestic violence resources to see whether they can be linked to patterns in violent victimization.
In the first stage of her research, Dawson will build a database documenting the growth and existence of domestic violence resources and initiatives in Canada. Currently, there are no data that systematically detail what exists and where; however, knowing regional profiles with respect to available violence prevention initiatives can contribute to our understanding of trends in violence across the country.
Using this information, Dawson will identify underserved areas to determine if they also have higher rates of violence. The underlying premise is that more resources should lead to reduced exposure to violence: where resources are high, rates in violence should be low and vice versa. This information will help to better allocate funds and to ensure equal access to justice for victims.