Evaluating the Downtown Community Court

Vancouver's Downtown Community Court is testing an integrated way of providing justice and health and social services in one location. Through evaluation and on-going research, the community court provides an opportunity to assess whether this innovative approach leads to successful outcomes for victims, offenders and the community, and whether it helps the justice system operate more efficiently and effectively.

The Downtown Community Court executive board was established in 2011 to provide leadership and direction in support of the final evaluation. The executive board includes representatives from the Ministry of Attorney General, the Provincial Court and Vancouver Coastal Health. The board received and accepted the final evaluation. Key evidence from the evaluation and the board's own observations are reflected in the board's report, available below.

The final evaluation includes three research streams, which correspond with the community court's objectives:

  • An offender outcomes and recidivism (re-offending) evaluation was completed by a research team led by Dr. Julian Somers from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University
  • An efficiency evaluation was completed by the Ministry of Attorney General, with a review by independent evaluation expert – R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd., and
  • A compilation of six survey reports of offenders, staff, partner agencies and community service providers by a team of researchers led by Dr. Margaret Jackson and Dr. William Glackman from School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University

The Downtown Community Court was the first of its kind in Canada and so is the evaluation research. The recidivism study has undergone academic peer review – a particularly important step in reinforcing the quality of the evaluation. We are exploring the full impacts of the pilot, including the promising results in reducing recidivism. The final evaluation will provide valuable lessons for the justice system and inform the provincial strategy for specialized courts.

Downtown Community Court Final Evaluation

Downtown Community Court Interim Evaluation

The interim evaluation report was released in Sept. 2010. The report focused on the project implementation and delivery and court-process efficiency results for the first 12 months of the community court's operation.