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Victims' Right to Review Scheme


Last updated: July 2014

Introduction

The CPS has launched the final guidelines for the Victims' Right to Review Scheme. This scheme makes it easier for victims to seek a review of a CPS decision not to bring charges or to terminate all proceedings.

Please note that the scheme applies only in relation to qualifying decisions made on or after 5 June 2013.

In 2011, the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment in the case of Killick (R v Christopher Killick [2011] EWCA Crim 1608).

In the course of the judgment the Court considered in some detail the right of a victim of crime to seek a review of a CPS decision not to prosecute and concluded in clear terms that:

  • Victims have a right to seek a review in such circumstances
  • Victims should not have to seek recourse to judicial review
  • The right to a review should be made the subject of a clearer procedure and guidance with time limits.

In June 2013, we launched a scheme which gives effect to the principles set out in Killick (and also Article 11 of the European Union Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime). The scheme was subject to public consultation and the final guidelines have now been published

Victims can seek a review of decisions not to charge, to discontinue or otherwise terminate all proceedings.

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Victims

The revised Victims' Code came into effect on 10 December 2013.

In cases submitted to the CPS prior to that date the definition of victim, for the purposes of the Victims' Right to Review scheme, is as follows:

'Any person who has made an allegation to the police, or had an allegation made on his or her behalf, that they have been directly subjected to criminal conduct under the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS).'

This definition also includes:

  • bereaved relatives or partners in homicide cases,
  • parents where the primary victim is a child or youth under 18,
  • police officers (who are victims of crime),
  • and a family spokesperson, entitled to receive services under the Code, where the victim is incapacitated as a result of disability.

In cases submitted to the CPS on or after 10 December 2013, the definition of victim, for the purposes of the Victims' Right to Review scheme is as follows:

'A person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by criminal conduct'.

This definition includes:

  • close relatives of a person whose death was directly caused by criminal conduct;
  • parents or guardians where the main victim is a child or youth under 18;
  • police officers who are victims of crime;
  • family spokespersons of victims with a disability or who are so badly injured they cannot communicate; and
  • businesses, providing they give a named point of contact.

The Victims' Code sets out enhanced entitlements for victims in the following groups because they are more likely to require enhanced support and services through the criminal justice process:

  • Victims of the most serious crime
  • Persistently targeted victims
  • Vulnerable or intimidated victims.

If you are entitled to enhanced assistance under the Victims' Code, you will be offered a meeting at the end of the review process to discuss the outcome.

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Qualifying decisions

Under this scheme you can seek a review of the following CPS decisions:

  1. Not to charge
  2. To discontinue (or withdraw in the Magistrates' Court) all charges thereby ending all proceedings.
  3. To offer no evidence in all proceedings.
  4. To leave all charges in the proceedings to "lie on file" (this is the term used in circumstances where the CPS makes a decision not to proceed and requests that the charges be allowed "to lie on the file" marked 'not to be proceeded with without the leave of this Court or the Court of Appeal').

The following cases do not fall within the scope of the scheme:

  • Cases where the qualifying decision was made prior to 5 June 2013;
  • Cases where the police exercise their independent discretion not to investigate or not to investigate a case further (whether in consultation with the CPS or not) and the CPS have not been requested to make a formal decision to charge. Requests for review of such decisions must be addressed to the relevant Police Service;
  • Cases where charges are brought in respect of some (but not all) allegations made or against some (but not all) possible suspects;
  • Cases where a single charge or charges are terminated but another charge or related charges continue;
  • Cases where proceedings against one (or more) defendants are terminated but related proceedings against other defendants continue;
  • Cases where a single charge or charges are substantially altered but proceedings continue;
  • Cases where some charges are left to lie on file;
  • Cases which are concluded by way of out of court disposal (an "out of court disposal" is a term used to describe alternatives to prosecution such as cautions, conditional cautions and penalty notices for disorder, intended for dealing with low-level, often first-time offending, where prosecution would not be in the public interest);
  • Cases where you request that proceedings be stopped or withdraw support for the prosecution and a decision is therefore taken not to charge/to terminate proceedings.

When you are notified that one of the three decisions listed above has been made, you will be told:

  • the nature of the decision - i.e. not to charge, to discontinue the case, to offer no evidence or to leave the charges to "lie on file";
  • whether the decision was on evidential or public interest grounds;
  • how you can access further information about the decision should you wish to do so; and
  • about the right to seek a review of the decision and how to exercise it.

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The Process

Lodging the Request

We recognise that many victims who are dissatisfied with the decisions we have made will want someone to look at the problem as quickly as possible.

If you would like us to review a qualifying decision, please contact the CPS office where the decision was made.

When you were notified of the decision you will have been provided with the e-mail address, telephone number and postal address of the relevant office. If you do not have those details to hand, contact details can also be found on this website.

Our preference is that you contact us by e-mail, but we are also happy for you to get in touch with us by telephone or letter.

You should (normally) submit your request within five working days from the date of the communication of the decision in order to ensure a prompt review.

An early request allows for a prompt review and, where appropriate, proceedings to be (re) commenced as quickly as possible. Conversely, a delayed request may increase the likelihood of the Court finding difficulty with any decision to (re) commence proceedings following the review. In some circumstances, it will not be possible to (re) commence proceedings if there is a delayed request for review.

We do however take this opportunity to provide reassurance that, where the law permits us to do so, we will consider requests for review for up to three months from the communication of the qualifying decision.

Any delay beyond the three months will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances taking into account the facts of the individual case.

Local Resolution

When we receive your request for review, the decision will be checked by a prosecutor who has not been involved with the case previously and we will ensure that you have been provided with a clear and detailed explanation of the decision.

There are three possible outcomes to local resolution activity:

  1. We may decide that the decision (not to bring charges, discontinue or offer no evidence) was wrong. Where possible we will (re) commence proceedings in these circumstances. If we are unable to (re) commence proceedings we will explain why and apologise.
  2. We may decide that the decision was right but that we ought to provide you with more information about the decision. If this is the case we will ask you to confirm whether you would like us to undertake an independent review the decision. We will provide details of the office to contact and ask that you do so within 10 working days.
  3. We may decide that the decision was right and that there is no further information to be provided. In these circumstances we will proceed directly to independent review.

Activity at the local resolution stage will normally be completed within 10 days of receipt of the request for review.

The independent review

Where we have been unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction at local resolution, the decision will be independently reviewed.

The review will comprise a reconsideration of the evidence and public interest i.e. a reviewing prosecutor, independent of the original decision, will approach the case afresh to determine whether the original decision was right or wrong.

We will contact you with the outcome of the review.

If you are entitled to enhanced assistance under the Victims' Code, you will be offered a meeting to discuss the outcome.

Time Limits

The qualifying decision will be communicated to you promptly in accordance with the time limits set out in the Victims' Code.

You should (normally) contact us within five (5) working days from the date of the communication of the decision, to advise us that you would like us to review the decision. However, the VRR scheme can be exercised for up to three months after the communication of the decision.

An early request allows for a prompt review and, where appropriate, proceedings to be (re) commenced as quickly as possible. Conversely, a delayed request may increase the likelihood of the Court finding difficulty with any decision to (re) commence proceedings following the review. In some circumstances, it will not be possible to (re) commence proceedings if there is a delayed request for review.

We do however take this opportunity to provide reassurance that, where the law permits us to do so, we will consider requests for review for up to three months from the communication of the qualifying decision.

Any delay beyond the three months will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances taking into account the facts of the individual case.

Any action taken to provide a local resolution will be completed within 10 working days.

If we have provided a further explanation of the decision, you then have 10 working days to let us know whether you are satisfied with the explanation given or whether you would like to proceed to an independent review of the case.

We will, wherever possible, complete the independent review and communicate the outcome to you within an overall timeframe of 30 working days (i.e. six weeks).

Where the case is particularly complex or sensitive, it is likely that it will not be possible to provide the outcome within the usual time limits. If this happens, we will tell you and will send you regular updates (although not more frequently than every 20 working days) until the outcome is decided.

See the Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) leaflet for additional information on the VRR Scheme and how to apply.

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Contact

In the first instance, please contact the office where the qualifying decision was made. The details will have been provided to you when we told you that the decision had been made. If you do not have those details to hand, please visit this website's Contacts section.

More detailed guidance can be found in the full guidance on Victims' Right to Review.

Mae arweiniad manylach i'w gael yn yr Hawl Dioddefwyr i Adolygiad Canllawiau.

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