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Victims’ Right to Review

If you have been a victim of a crime and a decision has been taken by us not to prosecute, you have the right to request a review of that decision.

On occasion, investigating officers may decide there is insufficient evidence to take action against a suspect or to take further proceedings would not be in the public interest.

In such circumstances, officers will keep you updated on the investigation process and will explain in detail why they will not be taking further action.

If you are not happy with this outcome and you would like to see an investigation taken further, you can request that a senior officer formally reviews your case. This is known as Victims’ Right to Review (VRR).

I want to know…

what cases can be reviewed

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

  • not to bring proceedings in cases where police have authority to charge
  • the case does not meet the test for referring the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a charging decision

VRR specifically relates to decisions not to prosecute. It does not cover crime-recording decisions or decisions not to continue with enquiries.

what cases cannot be reviewed

The Victims’ Right to Review scheme does not apply if the CPS made the decision as the right to review lies with them. Visit the CPS website for more information.

VRR also does not apply to the following cases where:

  • no suspect has been identified and interviewed
  • some of the charges are brought against some of the suspects
  • a positive decision (charge or Out Of Court Disposal) has been made about someone else in connection with the incident
  • 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
  • an Out Of Court Disposal has been given, for example, a Conditional Caution or Community Resolution
  • the victim retracts their complaint or refuses to cooperate with the investigation, so police decide not to charge or refer the case to the CPS

Sometimes an investigation into an offence is ongoing. Even though police have made a decision on whether or not to charge someone, a VRR consideration may be deferred until the investigation is complete.

who can ask for a review and when

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

If the case qualifies under the scheme, any victim is entitled to seek a review.

A victim is defined as a person who has suffered:

  • harm – including physical, mental or emotional
  • economic loss directly caused by criminal conduct

Others can apply on behalf of a victim too:

  • close relatives of a person whose death was directly caused by criminal conduct
  • parents or guardians where the main victim is under 18
  • police officers who are victims of crime
  • family spokespersons of victims with a disability, or who are so badly injured they cannot communicate
  • businesses, providing they give a named contact

You can ask someone to act on your behalf, such as a solicitor or Member of Parliament. In these cases, we will need written confirmation to show that the person in question has the authority of the victim to act on their behalf.

how to apply for a review

You can request a review of a police decision not to prosecute:

When requesting a review by post, include:

  • your full name
  • your preferred contact method (by phone or in writing)
  • your telephone number
  • your address
  • the offence
  • the date of the offence
  • any reference you have been given previously
  • if you are not the victim, the victim’s name and your relationship to them

If the request meets the eligibility criteria, we will allocate it to be investigated by an officer who has not been involved in the case.

The officer’s role is not to review the previous decision of the case but to take a fresh view of all 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 but you will be updated regularly.

the possible outcomes of a review

There are six potential outcomes of a review:

  1. the original decision to take no further action is upheld
  2. the original decision is overturned and proceedings are started against the suspect
  3. the original decision is overturned and the suspect dealt with by out of court disposal
  4. the original decision is overturned and the case referred to the CPS for a charging decision
  5. police decide to make further enquiries before the reviewing officer can make a decision
  6. the original decision is overturned but the case’s statute of limitations has run out so we cannot start proceedings

Whatever the outcome we will write to you confirming it unless it would be inappropriate to do so or you have requested differently.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the police review, you can pursue the matter further by applying to the High Court for a judicial review

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