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What is a 'No Further Action' Letter?

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If you are released under investigation or released on pre-charge bail after being interviewed by the police, you will either receive a postal requisition or a summons to attend the Magistrates’ Court, or you will receive a ‘no further action’ (NFA) letter.

A no further action letter means that no further action will be taken by the police in relation to the crime you were being investigated for at this time. While receiving a no further action letter is preferable to a criminal conviction, there are still a number of additional factors that you will need to take into consideration.

Here, we discuss what a no further action letter actually is, how long it could take to get a no further action letter, why you may receive a no further action letter from the police in the UK and what the potential consequences could be.

What does no further action mean?

As mentioned above, a no further action letter acts as confirmation that the police will no longer be taking action against you in respect of the allegations you are facing and that they are no longer actively investigating the case.

No further action letters from the police in the UK also mean that you will not have to attend court to answer the charges against you.

If you have been remanded in custody while an investigation is ongoing, you will be released. If you were released under investigation, you will no longer be subject to any guidance set out by the police.

It should be noted that a decision to take no further action does not prevent the police from reopening an investigation at a later date if new evidence comes to light.

In some cases, the police may refer your case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide whether to move forward with charges. If the CPS decides there are not sufficient grounds to charge you, you may receive a no further action letter from the CPS instead.

How long does it take to get a no further action letter?

The time it takes to get a no further action letter will depend on how long it takes for the police to carry out an investigation. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question, nor is there a time limit, as you can be ‘released under investigation’ for an indefinite period of time.

That being said, there are a number of factors which could influence the time it takes for the police to conclude an investigation. These include:

  • The complexity of the case and surrounding evidence – Certain evidence will be much more difficult to obtain and compile for investigating authorities. For certain offences, such as financial crimes, it is likely to take the police much longer to conclude an investigation, owing to the type of evidence needed to make a conviction.
  • Whether a charging decision needs to be made by the CPS - the police can make charging decisions on less serious criminal cases. However, if a case needs to be referred to the CPS, this can mean that a charging decision takes much longer to reach.
  • The type of offence – Charging decisions on summary offences will take much less time, as the police can make the prosecuting decisions themselves. ‘Either way’ and ‘indictable only’ offences can take much longer.
  • The capacity of the police and/or CPS – It is a simple fact that the time it takes to reach a decision will have much to do with the respective capacity of the authority investigating the crime. If resources are limited, this is going to increase the time it takes for a final decision to be made.

What happens after a no further action decision?

Receiving a notification of a no further action letter can come as a relief, particularly if you are under investigation for a serious crime. However, you should be aware that a no further action letter does not necessarily mean that there aren’t further obstacles that need to be handled.

DBS Certificate

Standard Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates show cautions and convictions. However, enhanced DBS checks can show ‘other information’.

This means that an enhanced DBS check could show non-conviction information and disclosures in relation to police investigations that did not result in prosecution. This is where an offence is relevant to the role being applied for. So, the impact of a no further action decision on DBS checks should be taken into consideration.

For example, this may include a scenario where you are applying for a job in a sector that involves work with children or vulnerable adults.

Professional disciplinary hearings

After a criminal investigation has been concluded, professionals who are subject to regulators may be required to attend formal disciplinary proceedings. It should be noted that professional disciplinary proceedings have a much lower evidential threshold than criminal investigations.

This means that a person should not assume that, because the police have decided to take no further action, the regulators will also see fit to do the same. Individuals will be subject to their professional regulator’s code of conduct, which may require specialist legal advice.

Biometric data

During criminal investigations, fingerprints and DNA samples are often taken upon arrest. Typically, this type of biometric data is deleted from Police National Computer (PNC) systems following a no further action letter.

However, fingerprints are held on the National Fingerprint Database (IDENT1) and DNA on the National DNA Database (NDNAD). An application for deletion of these records needs to be made.

Is no further action a caution?

Cautions can be handed out to anyone for a minor crime. To receive a caution, an individual must admit to an offence and agree to accept the caution.

A no further action letter does not act in the same way as a caution. Cautions indicate that someone is guilty of an offence and also show on both standard and enhanced DBS checks.

Is no further action a conviction?

A no further action letter does not act as a conviction. It is confirmation that the police will not be pursuing an investigation any further and that you will not face any charges.

Can I retrieve seized property following a no further action letter?

If your property has been seized during a criminal investigation, you will be entitled to recover it from the police. This is so long as it is not an exhibit, or of an illegal nature.

The police may not necessarily inform you that your property can be collected, and there may be occasions where you run into difficulties while trying to retrieve certain items.

Our criminal solicitors have specialist expertise in supporting people to recover their property. We can assist you if you are experiencing difficulties following a no further action letter from the police in the UK.

Should I speak to a solicitor about no further action letters?

Being subject to a criminal investigation, no matter the circumstances, can be a daunting prospect. To ensure that you have the best possible chance of reaching a positive outcome for your case, including securing a no further action letter, speaking to a specialist criminal law solicitor is essential.

At JD Spicer Zeb, our expert criminal defence solicitors have substantial expertise in advising and representing clients on a wide range of offences. We can help you to secure the best possible result for your situation.

In many cases, this will include defending your position and securing a no further action letter from the police to bring the investigation to an end before charges are brought forward.

We can also advise you if you have already received a no further action letter from the police in the UK. This includes making representations to the DBS to be removed from their barred list and supporting you through professional discipline hearings where necessary.

Our team have over 45 years of specialist criminal defence expertise and are Law Society accredited in Criminal Litigation. This means we are perfectly positioned to provide robust representation and empathetic support, no matter what your circumstances may be.

Speak to our criminal lawyers today

If you have been released under investigation and need urgent specialist advice about no further action letters, immediate representation, or to speak to us confidentially about a potential criminal charge or prosecution, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can contact our specialist criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham and Manchester by telephone on:

Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you quickly.

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Please get in touch for a free consultation with one of our expert criminal defence solicitors, as well as immediate representation and advice for the allegations you may be facing.

We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number at 07836 577 556.

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Common questions

We always work with the most experienced and best leading UK barristers, KCs (Kings Counsel). We cover all criminal cases 24/7 at the police station and court. Offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester cover cases across England and Wales. We can offer Legal Aid and affordable Private fee agreements. We can see you the same day, including virtually. Our Senior Partners supervise all of our cases.

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We respond quickly even during out of hours. We do not get our work by paying for online adverts but based on the fact that few criminal law firms can match our 45 years of experience. Most of our cases are still from word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients. We are called daily by dissatisfied clients from firms with less experience than us. We respond very quickly to new enquiries. We know what clients seek and so we update clients rapidly.

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Yes, read about the recent cases we've helped our clients with here.

We always keep you updated and give straightforward advice. We will get cases dropped early where the case is weak or should not be prosecuted. We will be upfront with you about where you can benefit from a good result with an early guilty plea, such as a discount on your sentence. As we work on cases across all levels with clients from all walks of life, we are excellent at giving clear, spot-on advice. As an established firm, we can allocate a whole team to your case often at short notice to secure evidence to minimise the damage to you. 

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"JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".

Do you offer free consultations?

Where it is possible, we aim to provide an initial consultation to you. If we can speak to you, we can if required inform you about  –

  • Whether we can take the case on and our relevant experience.
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