Victim Assistance Support Team (VAST)
The Calgary Police Service Victim Assistance Support Team (VAST) promotes and advocates the rights and entitlements of victims of crime and trauma. VAST provides assistance to both primary victims (persons who have experienced direct injury, loss or trauma) and secondary victims (those who are impacted by the repercussion of a crime or trauma including witnesses, friends, family and co-workers.) To lessen the effects of a traumatic incident, the Victim Assistance Support Team provides non-judgmental emotional support, a listening ear and practical assistance to victims of crime or tragedy. If you're interested in becoming involved, find out more about volunteering with the Victim Assistance Support Team.
Services offered by VAST
The Calgary Police Service Victim Assistance Support Team has been a source of support to thousands of victims of crime and tragedy in Calgary since 1977. Our role is to reduce the impact you may experience from a crime or tragedy. All services are free of charge. The following are offered services:
1) The Call Centre
- Contact: 403-428-8398 or toll-free 1-888-327-7828
- Hours: Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Victim support advocates (volunteers) provide phone contact with victims of personal crime or tragedy offering case and court information and updates, emotional support, and referrals to community agencies for counselling, bereavement, and other appropriate support agencies.
2) Court support
Victim support advocates inform victims of their rights, their role and their obligations when participating in the criminal justice system once charges are laid. Advocates provide court updates, court preparation, court orientation and, when required, court accompaniment for victims, families and witnesses during preliminary hearings and trial.
The Court Support Program also works in partnership with the Child Witness Court Preparation Program for children aged three to 17, and the Domestic Violence Legal Intervention Program.
3) Crisis call response
Victim support advocates provide 24/7 on-scene response to an incident and offer immediate crisis intervention, emotional support, and practical assistance to victims of crime and tragedy. Teams are dispatched under the direction of Calgary Police Service members.
4) Accredited facility/trauma dogs
Our trauma dogs assist the Victim Assistance Support Team with victims of crime and tragedies. Their comforting presence makes them excellent supports to those who have witnessed or experienced traumatic incidents. Like other service dogs, our trauma K9s wear a blue and yellow vest with the PADS and CPS crests on it to indicate they are working.
The Calgary Police Service is the third police agency in Canada to have trauma dogs, but the first to have sworn handlers.
VAST currently has two dogs, both provided by Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS). They both hold the title of accredited facility dog and, with their handlers re-take their public access test every 12 months to maintain access rights to court buildings, schools, hospitals, and other public buildings.
Other programs and services
The following programs are offered by the Alberta Government:
Victim impact statement
Once charges are laid, victims have a right to complete a victim impact statement, as legislated under section 722 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The victim impact statement is intended to give crime victims a voice in the criminal justice process. A victim impact statement is a written account of the personal harm suffered by a victim of crime. It provides an opportunity to participate in the sentencing of an offender by explaining to the court, and the offender, how the crime has affected them.
Once charges are laid, victims have a right to apply for restitution from the offender, if they have suffered financial loss because of a crime. Restitution is a way for the offender to repay the victim.