Number: B 2502 Date Published: 20 November 2023 Version 6 – November 2023
1.0 Summary of Changes
This procedure has been updated as follows:
Section 4.0 – EIA added
2.0 What this Procedure is about.
This procedure sets out the process for the Victim Right to Review (VRR) scheme which gives victims a right to ask for a review of a police decision not to prosecute a suspect.
It is linked to the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (Victims Code) and National Guidance and should be read and understood by all members of staff who have contact with victims.
2.1 Qualifying Cases
The Police Scheme VRR will only apply to National Crime Recording Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) (NCRS) offences:
Outcome 10 - Formal Action against the offender is not in the public interest (police decision);
Outcome 15 - Evidential Difficulties - named suspect identified - crime confirmed and victim supports police action but evidential difficulties prevent further action.
Life changing injury/fatal road traffic matters which fall outside of National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) offences - Life changing is defined as ‘The injured person is not able to lead an independent life. This would include loss of limbs (not fingers), severe head injuries with a loss of cognitive ability and full or partial paralysis.
It applies to cases in which a suspect has been identified and interviewed under caution, either following an arrest or by voluntary arrangement. An ‘interview’ in this context relates to situations where a suspect has an allegation put to them in some detail, as opposed to limited questioning that might take place in the immediate aftermath of an incident, for instance during a stop and search.
The right of a victim to request a review arises where the police:
Make a decision not to bring proceedings in cases where the police have authority to charge; or
Make a decision that the case does not meet the Threshold Test for referral to the CPS for a charging decision.
2.2 Non-Qualifying Cases
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;
The scheme specifically relates to decisions not to prosecute and does not cover crime recording decisions or decisions not to continue with enquiries.
Compliance with this procedure and any governing policy is mandatory.
3.0 Detail the Procedure
Victims should be informed of their eligibility to exercise the Right to Review at the point that an officer fulfils their Victims’ Code obligation to inform the victim of the final outcome of an investigation where that decision is not to proceed.
At this point, victims should be directed to the Essex Police Website Victim Right To Review. There they will find further information on the scheme and a form which will ask for their name, date of birth, email address, contact number and reference number. A printable version of the information can also be found here for you to print out for the victim if they do not have access to a computer.
In the event that the victim does not have access to the internet then they can exercise their right by writing to:
Quality of Service Team, Essex Police HQ, PO Box No.2, Springfield, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6DA.
The victim will need to simply state that they would like to exercise their right to review including the same details as above - name, date of birth, email address, contact number and reference number – see the process flow chart.
It is important that suspects are given clear information if they are informed of a decision to take no further action against them, making them aware that proceedings may still be initiated in light of fresh evidence or a review of the decision. This is vital to prevent abuse of process arguments precluding the instigation of proceedings following a review.
3.1 Who is Eligible to Apply
Any victim in a qualifying case where a decision is made not to prosecute is entitled to seek a review of that decision.
‘a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss, which was directly caused by criminal conduct’.
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;
Nominated family spokespersons of victims with a disability or who are so badly injured that they cannot communicate or lack the capacity to do so; and
Businesses, providing they give a named point of contact.
Legal persons on behalf of the victim with their consent.
Support services acting on behalf of victim with their consent e.g., registered charities in support of victims.
All victims should be notified of their right to ask for a review at the point they are informed of the decision not to prosecute.
Reviews will not ordinarily be conducted until the conclusion of the investigation. This is to cater for situations where no further action is taken against one or more suspects but the case remains open and actively investigated. This further investigation may result in another suspect(s) being prosecuted and thereby put the case outside the scope of qualifying cases.
Where the victim indicates they have additional information that they feel is evidential then consideration will be given to securing this material as this may form the basis of a future request for a review, where appropriate; particularly if, like CCTV footage, it is liable to being lost or destroyed.
The Victims’ Code identifies three categories of victim who are entitled to receive an enhanced service: vulnerable or intimidated victims, victims of the most serious crime and victims who are persistently targeted.
If a victim is entitled to an enhanced service, then appropriate guidance should be given to enable them to make an informed decision regarding their right to ask for a review. This might involve ensuring that relevant victim support agencies are engaged in helping the victim with their decision regarding VRR.
The decision of a victim to exercise the Right to Review is not considered as a complaint against the police.
Further detailed guidance is available on the Essex Police intranet Criminal Justice Victims and Witnesses page.
3.2 Conducting the review.
A review should be completed by a Supt or DCI/staff equivalent who is not involved in the investigation chain to ensure objectivity and impartiality.
The reviewing officer must be independent of the investigation or any involvement in the original decision for complete impartiality and does not need to assess whether the original decision was justified;
In cases requiring a level of specialist knowledge, such as certain Public Protection and financial investigations, the reviewing officer should have relevant experience/qualifications in the field.
The reviewing officer must approach the case afresh and reach their own conclusion regarding whether a prosecution should be brought, whether the matter should be referred to the CPS, whether further enquires are necessary or that no further action should be taken. Their decision will, in almost all cases, be made against the Full Code Test as, even if the original decision was made against the Threshold Test.
The reviewing officer’s decision takes precedence over the original decision.
A determination to overturn a decision not to prosecute must be grounded in the principle that the original decision was ‘wrong’. This is to ensure that such decisions have a legal foundation that will withstand challenge. Factors that the decision may be ‘wrong’ can include:
An unreasonable decision to disregard compelling evidence
A significant misinterpretation of the evidence;
A failure to consider, or an unreasonable decision to ignore, relevant policy
An incorrect application of the law
The outcome of the review and the rationale for the reviewing officer’s decision should be recorded in writing. The rationale should clearly set out why the original decision was wrong. This is important if the decision is subsequently challenged through judicial review.
The CPS provide guidance entitled, ‘Reconsidering a Prosecution Decision’ to their prosecutors which may be of assistance for police reviewing officers.
3.3 Time Limits
A victims request for a review should be acknowledged within 10 days;
Victims should be allowed to request a review within 3 months of being notified of the case being filed, as this is the period during which they can request a judicial review.
Wherever possible, the reviewing officer should complete the review and communicate the decision to the victim within an overall timeframe of 30 working days from the 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 should be notified accordingly and provided with regular updates on the progress of the review.
Where a case is due to become statute-barred every effort should be made to expedite the review, particularly where the CPS will ultimately be required to make the charging decision, and early liaison should be made with the CPS in such cases.
3.4 Monitoring VRR
To allow for the performance of the VRR to be monitored the reviewing officer will capture/supply information on gender/ethnicity, QOS will capture data on the VRR Spreadsheet. Data should be collected to allow for both local and national reporting. Such data should include the following:
Number of VRR’s received annually.
% of VRRs completed in 30 days
Recording the learning outcomes if any and the actions taken are the responsibility of the reviewing officer and will be recorded on the Athena Enquiry Log
4.0 Equality Impact Assessment
EIA – November 2023
5.0 Risk Assessment
The Police Victim Right to Review is a national scheme. Monitoring is in place to track volumes in order to assess whether:
The volumes of applications are high and that has a significant impact upon workload for DCIs and designated reviewing officer;
The rate of applications is too low and therefore, the indication is that officers are failing to inform victims of the existence of their right to review a decision. This failure may lead to increased complaints against officers as a result of the failure to notify;
The reviews identify a consistent level of inappropriate decision making and therefore risks that criteria for decision making at a wider level is not being appropriately applied.
The following were invited to consult during the formulation of this document:
Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator
Health & Safety
Strategic Change Team
Head of Customer Services
Quality of Service Manager
Head of Continuous Improvement
Strategic Force Crime & Incident Registrar
DPO/Temp Head of Info Management
Head of Operational HR
Support Network Chairs and Vice Chairs
Specials Command Essex
Essex Diversity and Inclusion Team
7.0 Monitoring and Review
The Victims Code Performance report includes statistical monitoring of the VRR process which shared with the Force Victims Focus and Public Confidence Board to support service improvement.
This procedure will be reviewed every 3 years by, or on behalf of, the Head of Strategic Vulnerability Centre to ensure it remains accurate and fit for purpose.
8.0 Governing Force policy.
Related Force policies or related procedures
B 2500 Policy – Victims and Witnesses
8.1 Data Security
Essex Police have measures in place to protect the security of data in accordance with our Information Management Policy – W 1000 Policy – Information Management.
8.2 Retention & Disposal of Records
Essex Police will hold data in accordance with our Records Review, Retention & Disposal Policy – W 1012 Procedure/SOP - Records Review, Retention and Disposal.
We will only hold data for as long as necessary for the purposes for which we collected. Victims/public should be reminded that Essex Police take the protection of personal data seriously as described in the privacy notice.
9.0 Other source documents, e.g., legislation, Authorised Professional Practice (APP), Force forms, partnership agreements (if applicable)
Police Victim Right to Review Process on a Page
Police Victim Right to Review Scheme – National Guidance
Process Flow Chart
College of Policing Guidance; Victims' Code for policing | College of Policing;
Code of Ethics Code of Ethics | College of Policing;
NPCC Victims and Witnesses Strategy connEXion - Victim and Witnesses (ecis.police.uk);
College of Policing Approved Professional Practice (APP) Victim and witness care (college.police.uk);