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Cases requiring a DCV letter

Endorse the file to indicate that:

a) that a DCV letter is required; or
b) that a DCV letter need not be sent (where one would normally be required) and include the reasons for taking that decision.

When drafting the DCV letter:

Do:

  • Use plain English and short sentences.
  • If legal terminology must be used, ensure it is clearly explained.
  • Where necessary, arrange for the letter to be translated into the victim's first language.
  • Head the letter "Private - to be opened by addressee only."
  • Refer to the recipient correctly throughout (for example, Dear Mr. Jones....).
  • Outline the role of the CPS and the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
  • Provide a clear explanation setting out why the decision has been taken to discontinue or substantially alter a charge.
  • Avoid using the word "dropped" when referring to charges which have been discontinued or not taken forward.
  • Be supportive and express empathy.
  • Acknowledge the disappointment the victim may feel when finding out that the charge has been discontinued or substantially altered.
  • Re-assure the victim that a discontinuance on this occasion should not discourage them from reporting any future incidents.
  • Make reference to the views of the victim where a withdrawal statement has been made.
  • Where necessary, explain that without the evidence of the victim, the case against the defendant could not be proved.
  • If the discontinuance has been caused by the victim's non-attendance at court, consider the possible reasons behind this and/or any vulnerabilities the victim has identified and draft the letter accordingly.
  • Ensure that any standard DCV paragraphs used do accurately reflect the circumstances of the case.
  • Refer to any new information received which had a bearing on the case being able to continue.
  • Where the victim is a child/young person, consider the sensitivities of writing to the victim and separately informing the parent/guardian of the decision.
  • In appropriate cases, offer to meet the victim to explain the prosecution decision, (VCOP obligation).
  • Where a case has been discharged at the committal stage, send a DCV letter or a holding letter at the time of discharge, explaining what has happened and informing the victim that the charge may be reinstated in the future if the evidence becomes available.  Send a follow up letter to the victim if / when the decision is taken not to reinstate the charge
  • Include the contact numbers of Victim Support and other relevant support agencies.
  • Include, in the body of the letter, a telephone number which will allow the victim to contact the CPS.

Don't:

  • Assume the recipient has a level of knowledge about the criminal justice system.
  • If they have withdrawn their allegations, give the impression that the victim was "at fault" when the case is discontinued.
  • Quote the Victims' Code verbatim without appropriate explanation of what this means in the particular case you are dealing with.
  • Include a detailed explanation which may be upsetting to the victim, for example mentioning the detail of contradicting evidence.
  • Include detail which could be seen as a breach ECHR, in relation to the right to a private life of the defendant or other witnesses, or the right to a fair trial for the defendant.

Having written the letter:

  • Make sure the WCU receives a copy of the DCV letter.

 

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