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Victims’ Right to Review

The Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) Scheme gives victims the right to ask for a review of a police decision not to charge a suspect. The VRR scheme applies to any decision made on or after April 2015.

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 under the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme. 

VRR only applies to cases where a suspect has been identified and interviewed under caution, this happens: 

  • after they have been arrested  
  • because the suspect has been asked by the investigating officer and volunteers to be interviewed

Victims’ Right to Review explained

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 Crown Prosecution Service (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, for example, investigations that are filed ‘at source’ 
  • some of the charges are brought against some of the suspects
  • a positive decision (charge or Out Of Court Disposal (OCD) 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 OCD has been given, for example, a Conditional Caution or Community Resolution
  • the victim retracts their complaint or refuses to cooperate with the investigation, so the police decide not to charge or refer the case to the CPS for a charging decision. If the victim cooperates at a future date, an investigation can be reviewed before considering VRR

Sometimes an investigation into an offence is ongoing and a VRR consideration may be deferred until the investigation is complete. This applies even when the police have decided whether or not to charge someone. 

Who can ask for a review, and when?

If the case qualifies under the VRR Scheme, any victim is entitled to seek a review of a case.  

A victim is defined as a person who has suffered: 

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

As a victim, you can ask someone to act on your behalf to request a VRR. For example, a solicitor, MP, a charity or a support service such as Support after Murder and Manslaughter, Women’s Aid or Help for Heroes.  

You will need to send us written confirmation to show that the nominated person or service has the authority to act on your behalf. 

You must request a review within three months of the police decision not to charge. We have the discretion to review cases outside of this timeframe, and individual cases will be reviewed before a decision is made. 

What if I am not the victim? 

Others can apply on behalf of a victim: 

  • 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
  • Legal persons on behalf of the victim with their consent
  • Support services acting on behalf of victim with their consent, for example registered charities in support of victims

The victim will need to send us written confirmation to show that the nominated person or service has the authority 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
What happens once a review has been submitted?

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. You will be given regular updates about the review.  

A review is usually completed within 30 working days. The case may take longer to review if the case is complex or sensitive.  

Possible outcomes of a review

There are six potential outcomes of a review: 

  1. The new reviewing officer agrees with the original decision to take no further action is upheld. 
  2. The new reviewing officer disagrees with the original decision is overturned and proceedings are started against the suspect. The suspect may be charged by the police or the decision to charge is sent to the CPS. 
  3. The original decision is overturned and the suspect is dealt with by Out of Court Disposal. 
  4. The new reviewing officer disagrees with the original decision and the case referred to the CPS for a charging decision. 
  5. The police decide to make further enquiries before the new reviewing officer can decide what happens next. 
  6. The new officer disagrees with the decision but the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be started (known as the statute of limitations) has run out, so nothing more can be done. 

You will be contacted to let you know the outcome, unless it would be inappropriate to do so, or you have requested differently. 

What happens if I disagree with the outcome of the VRR decision? 

If you are dissatisfied with the VRR decision, you can request an appeal. 

The case will be reviewed by the same police force, but your appeal will be conducted by an officer or staff of higher rank than the VRR reviewing officer.  

The appeal review should be completed within 30 working days from receipt of the request for a VRR. In complex or sensitive cases, it may take longer. You will be given regular updates.

If you are unhappy with the VRR appeal decision, you can apply to the High Court for a judicial review. 

Support for victims of crime

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