HOW DOES VORP WORK?

There are four phases to the process: intake, preparation, mediation, and follow-up.

Intake Phase

People enter the VORP through referrals from various sources, including the Crown Prosecutor, defense counsel, duty counsel, alternative measures, the police, the accused or the victim. Crimes diverted to VORP can include assault, mischief, theft, or uttering threats. This program is for those offenders who are willing to accept responsibility for their actions.

The Crown prosecutor must approve the mediation, and once it is approved, the case worker is able to do an initial screening process and the case is assigned to a mediator. The Crown Prosecutor approves the majority of the cases referred to mediation.

Preparation Phase

Usually the offender is contacted first so the victim's expectations will not be dashed. The initial contact with both the offender and the victim is over the phone, unless circumstances require a face- to-face contact. This initial contact gives general information about the VORP program and sets up one-on-one meetings between the mediator and the offender, and the mediator and the victim.

Separate meetings are arranged with the victim and with the offender to provide an opportunity for the mediator to introduce him- or herself and to explain the concept behind VORP. Both the victim and the offender receive an opportunity to describe the chain of events to the mediator. The time applied to each case during the preparation phase is approximately two hours, dedicated to case building and phone calls.

Either party can refuse to participate, and subsequently, the case will proceed to court. More often than not though, both parties agree to participate. When a victim refuses to participate, they often give the following reasons: the case is not important enough to warrant participation, an agreement with the offender has already been worked out, lack of confidence in the offender's goodwill, fear, or anger (Niemeyer & Shichor, 1996). The reasons offenders refuse to participate include: offender feels they have not done anything wrong, or, in the case of a youth, the parents do not want the offender to participate (Niemeyer & Shichor, 1996). The victim is more often the individual who refuses to participate (Davis et al., 1997).


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