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 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 they cannot communicate
- Businesses, providing they give a named point of contact.
In what circumstances does a victims' right to review occur?
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 'appropriate test' for referral to the CPS for a charging decision.
How can victims exercise the right under the scheme?
Once notified of the police decision not to bring a prosecution the victim has the right to contact the police either in writing, by phone or by email.
What are the time limits to apply for a review?
- A request for a review of a decision should be acknowledged within 10 working days
- Victims should be allowed to request a review within 3 months of being notified of the police decision not to prosecute, as this is the period during which a victim may request a judicial review. Requests made after the 3 month period will be dealt with at the Force's discretion.
- The review should be completed and the decision communicated to the victim with an overall timeframe of 30 working days (i.e. 6 weeks from receipt of the request from the victim).
- In complex or sensitive cases it may not be possible to provide a victim right to review decision within the timescales above. In such cases, the victim will be notified accordingly and regular updates on the progress of the review will be provided.
**Please note that this scheme applies only in relation to qualifying decisions made on or after 1st April 2015**
What can I expect as an outcome of the review?
There are six potential outcomes of a review:
- The original decision to take no further action is upheld;
- The original decision is overturned and proceedings are commenced against the suspect, i.e. they are charged/summonsed;
- The original decision is overturned and the suspect is dealt with by way of an out of court disposal;
- The original decision is overturned and the case is referred to the CPS for a charging decision;
- It is determined that further enquiries need to be completed before the reviewing officer can make their decision;
- The original decision is overturned but the case is statute-bared[i] and proceedings cannot be instigated.
Are there any occasions where my case would not be reviewed?
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[ii]; 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.
What happens if I'm still not happy with the outcome after review?
If the victim remains dissatisfied with outcome of the police review and wishes to pursue the matter further, they may apply to the High Court for a judicial review.