The Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) scheme gives victims the right to request a review of our decision not to prosecute offences committed against them.
As a victim of crime if you feel that your case has not been handled appropriately by us, you have the right to request a review of your case. Our scheme applies in all qualifying cases from 1st November 2017.
The scheme is not retrospective in its application, albeit regard will be given to its principles in determining how to respond to any requests received in respect of decisions made before this date.
Who can apply under the scheme?
Any victim in a case where a qualifying decision has been made, is entitled to seek a review of that decision under the scheme.
A victim is defined as follows:
‘a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by a criminal offence’
This includes family members of a person whose death was directly caused by a criminal offence and who have suffered harm because of that person's death.
For the purpose of our policy, other legal persons (eg businesses) are not included within the definition of a victim.
In what circumstances does a victims’ right to review occur?
The right of a victim to request a review arises where we decide not to bring proceedings in cases where we have authority. The right to request a review arises only in relation to qualifying decisions made after 1st November 2017. Victims can seek a review of decisions not to prosecute, to discontinue or otherwise terminate all proceedings.
The following cases do not fall within the scope of the scheme:
- Cases where the qualifying decision was made prior to 1st November 2017;
- 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, enforcement undertakings and civil sanctions (eg enforcement undertakings) intended for dealing with low-level, often first-time offending, where prosecution would not be in the public interest);
- Cases where the victim request that proceedings be stopped or withdraw support for the prosecution and a decision is therefore taken not to prosecute/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 - ie not to prosecute, 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
How can victims exercise the right under the scheme?
Once notified of our decision not to bring a prosecution the victim has the right to contact us either in writing, by phone or by email.
How to raise a request to review your case:
Lodging the Request
If you are a victim and would like us to review a qualifying decision, please contact the us at Customer Care Centre.
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 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 considering the facts of the individual case.
When we receive your request for review, the decision will be checked by a lawyer 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 stage 1 activity:
- We may decide that the decision (not to bring prosecute, 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
- 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 proceed to the final stage for a further review. We will provide details of the office to contact and ask that you do so within 10 working days
- 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 the final stage
Activity at stage 1 will normally be completed within 10 working days of receipt of the request for review.
Where we have been unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction at stage 1, the decision will be independently reviewed.
The review will comprise a reconsideration of the evidence and public interest ie 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.
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.
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 time frame of 30 working days (ie 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.