Compensations to victims of crime

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The B.C. Civil Liberties Association supports legislation such as that pioneered in Saskatchewan’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Act (1967), which provides as follows:

  1. A Crimes Compensation Board will hear applications under the Act.
  2. Compensation may be provided to persons injured as a result of criminal acts committed, or to dependants of a victim of crime.
  3. The Board has wide discretion in awarding damages and must hold hearings.
  4. Compensation may be recovered from the person convicted of the offense.
  5. No appeals or review may be made of orders of the Board.
  6. A schedule of about 25 offences is set out with respect to which compensation applies.

We do, however, find this Act to be objectionable in a few respects:

  1. It provides that no compensation can be awarded where a member of the victim’s family committed the crime.
  2. It denies a right of appeal to the ordinary courts.

As to the first point, there seems no appropriate reason to restrict compensation to non-relatives of the criminal.

As to the second point, the danger is inherent of abuse of process and denial of fair hearing where there is no access by appeal or otherwise to the Courts. Such appeals should consider a swell the question of whether compensation awarded is inordinately high or low. The appeal should be to a Superior Court judge, with further right to appeal on questions of law to the Court of Appeal.

We feel that the present British Columbia Act dealing with compensation of those injured while aiding the police or preventing crime and capturing criminals is far too narrow in its scope.

We also recommend to the attention of those interested in this subject, the excellent study published by Osgood Hall Law School in 1968:

Linden, Allan M. Report of the Osgood Hall Study on Compensation for Victims of Crime. Toronto: 1968.

It contains much statistical and comparative information that would be most useful for the formulation of legislative policy.