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Victim’s Right to Review

A victim’s right to review (VRR) relates to the right for a victim to ask for a review of a decision not to prosecute a suspect. It is important to note the right to review is not a complaint about service.

Northamptonshire Police has a scheme which enables a victim of crime in certain circumstances to ask for a review of decisions made not to prosecute or progress and investigation involving a suspect.

The purpose of a review is not to apportion blame but to secure justice and when identified, learn lessons which can be shared with officers to improve the quality of decision making.

Who is eligible to ask for a review?

Any victim in a qualifying case where a decision is made not to prosecute is entitled to seek a review of that decision. A victim is defined as per The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime 2013 (Victims’ Code): ‘a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by criminal conduct’.

This includes:

  • 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 circumstances apply to a right of review?

VRR will only apply to cases in which a suspect has been identified and interviewed under caution, either following an arrest or by voluntary arrangement. An ‘interview’ in this context is intended to cover situations where a suspect has an allegation put to them in some detail as opposed to limited questioning that might take place in the immediate aftermath of an incident, for instance during a stop and search.

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
  • make a decision that the case does not meet the Threshold Test for referral

What type of investigations apply to this right?

  • 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
  • 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

When can I apply for a right of review?

The Victim Right of Review came in to effect in April 2015. It relates only to decisions made from the 1st of April 2015, not to prosecute. The crime may have occurred before April however.

A Victim has the right to request a review within three months of being notified of the decision not to prosecute.

How will I be told of my entitlement to a review?

All victims should be notified of their right to ask for a review at the point they are informed of the decision not to prosecute.

How do I contact the police to ask for a review?

You can contact Northamptonshire Police by filling out this form to exercise your right of review. You will be prompted to answer a number of questions to help us find your investigation and confirm your eligibility to ask for a review.

What will the review involve?

A review will be allocated to a Review Officer of Inspector or more senior rank, dependant on the nature of the investigation. The Review Officer will contact you and explain the process including how they plan to conduct the review.

The Review Officer will approach the case afresh and reach their own conclusion regarding whether a prosecution should be brought, whether the matter should be referred to the CPS, whether further enquires are necessary or that no further action should be taken.

The Review Officer will not assess whether the original decision was justified based on the process that was taken to reach it.

The method of communicating the outcome of a review with a victim may be determined on a case by case basis; review decisions should be confirmed in writing, unless the circumstances of the case make it inappropriate to do so or the victim has stated that they do not wish to receive written communication.

Can I appeal the decision of the review?

Northamptonshire Police operate a single tier review scheme with no further right of appeal by the victim.

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Last modified 4th November 2016

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