The Police Victim Right to Review scheme relates to the right of a victim of a crime to ask for a review of a decision by Essex Police not to prosecute a suspect. The scheme applies to National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) offences.
The scheme applies to cases in which a suspect has been identified and interviewed under caution, either following an arrest or by voluntary arrangement
Your right to request a review arises in the following circumstances where the police decide:
It should be noted that Victims Right to Review specifically relates to decisions not to prosecute and does not cover crime recording decisions or decisions not to continue with enquiries.
- not to bring proceedings in cases where the police have authority to charge; or
- that the case does not meet the Test for referring the matter to the CPS for a decision to charge an offender.
The scheme applies to any decision made on or after 1 April 2015 but does not apply retrospectively to decisions taken before that date.
The following cases DO NOT fall within the scope of police VRR:
- cases where no suspect has been identified and interviewed, for instance investigations that are filed ‘at source’;
- 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 charge is brought that relates to the matter complained about by the victim but the offence charged differs from the crime that was recorded; for instance the suspect is charged with common assault but an offence of actual bodily harm has been recorded;
- cases which are concluded by way of out of court disposal; and
- cases where the victim retracts their complaint or refuses to co-operate with the investigation and a decision is therefore taken not to charge/not to refer the case to the CPS for a charging decision.
Who can apply under the scheme?
Any victim in a qualifying case (as above) where a decision is made not to prosecute is entitled to seek a review of that decision.
A victim is defined as per The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime 2013 (Victims’ Code):
‘a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by criminal conduct’.
This can include:
- 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 that they cannot communicate; and
- businesses, providing they give a named point of contact.
You should have been notified of your right to ask for a review at the point you were informed of the decision not to prosecute.
The Victim Right to Review is specifically intended to allow a victim to have an avenue to appeal a decision not to prosecute. It is separate and distinct from any complaint process regarding conduct or service.
It is acknowledged that a victim might ask an individual to act on their behalf, such as a solicitor or an MP in which case we will require written confirmation, where appropriate, that the person in question has the authority of the victim to act on their behalf.
When a victim requests a review of a decision receipt of this request will be acknowledged within 10 working days.
A victim can request a review within 3 months of being notified of the decision not to prosecute.
Wherever possible, the review will be completed and the decision communicated to the victim within an overall timeframe of 30 working days (i.e. 6 weeks from receipt of the request from the victim).
Where the case is particularly complex or sensitive, it may not be possible to provide a VRR decision within the usual time limits. In such cases, the victim will be notified accordingly and provided regular updates on the progress of the review.
The Outcome of the Review
There are six potential outcomes of a review:
- the original decision to take no further action is upheld;
- the original decision is overturned and proceedings are commenced against the suspect, i.e. they are charged/summonsed;
- the original decision is overturned and the suspect is dealt with by way of an out of court disposal;
- the original decision is overturned and the case is referred to the CPS for a charging decision;
- it is determined that further enquiries need to be completed before the reviewing officer can make their decision;
- the original decision is overturned but the case is statute-barred and proceedings cannot be instigated.
The method of communicating the outcome of a review is determined on a case by case basis but all decisions will be confirmed in writing, unless the circumstances of the case make it inappropriate to do so or the victim has stated that they do not wish to receive written communication.
A victim who remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the police review and wishes to pursue the matter further can apply to the High Court for a judicial review.
Please note, it is possible that a victim could appeal a police decision not to prosecute resulting in that decision being overturned and the matter being referred to the CPS for a charging decision. The CPS could then decide to take no further action and the victim would then be entitled to ask for a review of the CPS decision under the CPS VRR scheme and ultimately to refer the matter for a judicial review.