In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime
2. What happens after you report a crime?
3. Victims' Right to Review scheme
4. Giving a witness or victim statement
5. Going to court
6. What happens after the trial?
7. Victim and witness support organisations

The Victims' Right to Review (VRR) Scheme gives victims the right to ask for a review of a police decision not to charge a suspect.

VRR applies to cases where a suspect has been identified and interviewed under caution. This happens either after they’ve been arrested or because they’ve volunteered to be interviewed.

Cases you can ask to be reviewed

You have the right to request a review if the police decide:

not to charge someone

or

where the police decide that the case doesn’t meet the test for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide to charge someone

VRR only applies where the decision is made not to charge or not to pass the case to the CPS to make a decision to charge someone.

It doesn’t cover decisions on whether a crime is recorded or whether an investigation into a crime can continue. If the CPS decides not to charge someone, their website explains what you can do.

Cases that can’t be reviewed

VRR doesn’t apply to cases where:

  • a suspect hasn’t been identified and interviewed
  • only some of the charges are brought against some of the suspects
  • a positive decision has been made about someone else in connection with the incident. This could include a range of outcomes. For example, community resolutions or a caution, through to charge and a court appearance
  • the suspect is charged with a different crime from the one that was recorded and complained about by the victim. For example, the suspect is charged with common assault but an offence of actual bodily harm was recorded
  • the case has been closed
  • the victim withdraws their complaint, or refuses to cooperate with the investigation, so police decide not to charge or to refer the case to the CPS

Sometimes an investigation into an offence is ongoing, so even though police have made a decision on whether to charge someone, a VRR consideration may be postponed until the investigation is complete.

The scheme applies to any decision made on or after 1 April 2015.

If your request to review relates to the CPS VRR scheme, you can request a review on a decision made on or after 5 June 2013. As this is a CPS scheme, the right to review lies with them. Visit the CPS website for more information.

Who can ask for a review and when

You must request a review within three months of the decision not to charge.

If the case qualifies under the scheme, any victim of a crime can request a review of the case.

Other people can apply on behalf of a victim. These include: 

  • close relatives of someone who has died as a result of a crime
  • the parent or guardian of a victim who is under the age of 18
  • someone who is representing a victim who has a disability or who has ​been badly injured as the result of a crime which means they can’t represent themselves
  • a business

You can ask someone to act on your behalf, such as a solicitor or Member of Parliament (MP). If you do, we will need written confirmation that they have permission to act on your behalf.

How to apply for a review

To request a review of a police decision not to charge, please provide:

  • your full name
  • how you would like us to contact you (by phone or by post)
  • a contact phone number and/or email address
  • your full address and postcode
  • what the offence is (quote the offence as worded on your letter or email from us)
  • the date the crime happened
  • any reference you have been given (eg crime reference number)
  • if you are not the victim, the victim’s name and your relationship to them

Email us or write to:

Quality of Service Team
Essex Police Headquarters
PO Box 2
Springfield
Chelmsford
CM2 6DA

What happens next

We aim to contact people within 10 working days to let them know we have received their request.

An officer, who wasn’t involved in the case, will be assigned to review the case. The officer’s role is not to review the previous decision, but to take a fresh look at the evidence and to make their own decision.

A review is usually completed within 30 working days. In complex or sensitive cases, it may take longer. You will be given regular updates.

Outcomes of reviews

There are six potential outcomes of a review:

  1. the new officer reviewing the case agrees with the first decision
  2. the new officer disagrees with the first decision and the suspect is charged by the police, or the decision to charge is sent to the CPS
  3. the original decision is overturned and the suspect dealt with out of court (an out of court disposal). This is a way of resolving an investigation for offenders of low level crime and anti-social behaviour.
  4. the new officer disagrees with the decision and the case is sent to the CPS for a decision to charge.
  5. the police decide they need to investigate further so the new officer can make a decision. 
  6. the new officer disagrees with the decision but the statute of limitations has run out so nothing more can be done. 

We will contact you to let you know the outcome.

If you’re not happy with the decision, you can apply to the High Court for a judicial review.

 

Next: Giving a witness or victim statement