Decisions on whether to prosecute
A decision not to continue with a criminal investigation or prosecution can have a profound impact on victims of crime or relatives of a deceased person whose death may have been caused or contributed to by the actions of another. These decisions are not, unfortunately, always correct.
Under current rules, victims are entitled to seek a review of a decision made by either the police or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to prosecute. This is commonly known as a ‘Victims’ Right of Review’ (VRR).
Victim Right of Review
A request to review a decision can be made usually within three months of the decision by the police or CPS and should set out why it is considered that the decision is incorrect.
The procedure for applying for a review and the decision making process are largely similar for decisions made by either the police or CPS; but each police force may have their own specific procedures that needs to be followed.
Who can apply for a review?
Only victims can apply for a review.
A victim is defined as:
“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
- Family spokespersons of victims with a disability or who are so badly injured that they cannot communicate
- Businesses, providing they give a named point of contact
What decisions can be reviewed
A decision not to prosecute is one that can be reviewed.
What constitutes a decision not to prosecute, however, can vary depending on whether you are seeking to review a decision made by the CPS or the police. The guidance in relation to decisions made by the police can vary depending on the force that made the decision.
What decisions cannot be reviewed
A decision that is unrelated to a decision not to prosecute is one that cannot be reviewed.
Specific guidance is, again, dependant on whether you are reviewing a CPS or police decision.
Importantly – if applying to review a CPS decision, the decision has to be one made after 5 June 2013. If applying to review a decision made by the police, the decision is one that was made after 1 April 2015.