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Victims Right To Review (VRR)

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Even if the case against you as a suspect is not proceeding further, you should be aware that this is not always the end of the case. You should consider instructing a strong defence team if you have been advised that the Victims Right to Review (VRR) Scheme may be followed in your case. We can make detailed written representations to remind the police or CPS in relation to the weakness of their case and the strength of your case. We can assign a whole team if required to you to take over your case. We will review your previous lawyers notes and provide our expert opinion. We generally undertake this work on an enhanced Private basis for clients seeking a proactive approach. 

Overview

Victims now have the right to request a review if police decide to take ‘no further action’ (NFA)  or where the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have decided not to prosecute. The Victims Right to Review (VRR) Scheme gives victims the right to challenge these decisions no to go ahead.

The police and CPS have separate VRR schemes. The CPS scheme will not apply to decisions made before 5 June 2013. There are separate rules for child sexual abuse allegations.

 The police scheme is not available for decisions before 1 April 2015.

Police VRR Scheme

If a victim wants to challenge an NFA, which is a  decision not to charge), they must request a review within 3 months of the initial decision. Notably, each police force has its own guidance and policy. Requests made more than 3 months after the initial decision was communicated are unlikely to be accepted unless there are exceptional circumstances. The review request should usually be acknowledged by the police within 10 working days.

If a review is conducted, it will be completed by an independent officer who was not involved in the initial investigation. The review is usually completed by the police within 30 working days although in complex or sensitive cases, this may take longer.

Potential review outcomes:

  1. The new officer reviewing the case agrees with the initial decision.
  2. The new officer disagrees with the initial decision and the suspect is charged by police or the decision to charge sent to the CPS.
  3. The initial decision is overturned, and the suspect is dealt with out of court. This may occur in investigations for low level crime and anti-social behaviour.
  4. The new officer disagrees with the initial decision and the case is sent to the CPS for a charging decision.
  5. The police decide they need to investigate further so the new officer can make a decision.
  6. The new officer disagrees with the initial decision, but the statute of limitation has run out so nothing more can be done.

CPS VRR Scheme

Where victims are notified of the prosecution decision not to bring a charge, the reasons why will be explained and they will be informed of their right to review. The only action required by the victim is to notify the CPS of their request for review within 10 working days of the date of the initial decision. Any representations should be made within 14 days of the request.

Late requests may be submitted after 10 workings day although this may negatively impact the outcome of the decision-making process. Requests made more than 3 months after the decision was communicated are unlikely to be accepted unless there are exceptional circumstances. The CPS will aim to complete the review and communicate the decision within 30 working days.

The right to request a review arises where the CPS:

  • Makes a final decision not to bring proceedings;
  • Discontinues or withdraws all charges involving the victim; (ending all proceedings)
  • Offered no evidence in all proceedings relating to the victim; or
  • Asks the court to leave all charges in the proceedings to lie on the file.

The CPS VRR scheme has two stages of review:

  1. A local resolution stage where the reviews are conducted by a new prosecutor at the CPS where first decision made, who was not involved with the initial decision.
  2. Where the initial decision not to prosecute is upheld, it may be possible to request an independent review to be conducted by the Appeals and Review Unit.

Potential review outcomes:

  • A New Decision:

The CPS may overturn the decision not to prosecute or decide to reinstitute the prosecution.

  • Uphold Previous Decision:

Where the initial decision not to prosecute is upheld, and the victim is notified and provided with an explanation.

How can we help?

Our experienced defence lawyers can provide 24-hour legal advice across the country. We can interview you, obtain your previous solicitors notes and provide a full opinion on your case. We offer proactive private service.

We have experience of making strong written representations to the police not to proceed. We can also make strong written representations to the CPS not to proceed. Each case depends on its own merits.

Our lawyers are trained to identify weaknesses in police cases. Where appropriate we will develop the best strategy and legal argument for you. Our teams are led by the best UK criminal lawyer partners.

We work with leading providers within the digital forensics industry, primarily specialising in criminal defence investigations with a comprehensive range of proven digital forensic capabilities, including mobile phone forensics, computer forensics and cell site analysis. We instruct the best experts on a vast range of investigations. An expert witness can be engaged to give their opinion on an issue that is outside the police or court’s expertise. Experts are instructed to assist the  police or court in understanding a technical matter which might be financial, medical, scientific or professional. We only work with leading experts to fight for you.

If you require our services in relation to any VRR request, please contact our local offices in London, Birmingham or Manchester.

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