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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.

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’.

VRR only applies to those cases where a suspect has been identified and interviewed under caution. This happens either after they have been arrested or because the investigating officer and volunteers have asked the suspect to be interviewed.

The VRR scheme applies to any decision made on or after April 2015.

Cases you can ask to be reviewed

You have a right to request a review if the police decide:

  • Where the police decide that the case does not meet the test for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide to charge someone – at this point you have a right to ask for a review (VRR)
  • VRR only applies where the decision is made not to charge or not to pass the case to the CPS to decide to charge someone.
  • It doesn’t cover decisions on whether a crime is recorded or whether an investigation into crime can continue.
  • If your request to review relates to CPS VRR scheme, you can request a review on a decision made on or after 5th June 2013. Ass this is a CPS scheme, the right to review lies with CPS. Visit the CPS website for more information.

Cases that cannot be reviewed

VRR does not apply to cases where:

  • 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) 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, for example a caution, a conditional caution, a community resolution.
  • 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. However, if at any point in the future the victim does cooperate, an investigation can be reviewed before considering VRR.

Who can ask for a review and when

  • If the case qualifies under the scheme, any victim of a crime can request a review of their case.
  • You must request a review within 3 months of the police decision not to charge.
  • Forces have a discretion to review cases outside of this time frame, but cases will be individually reviewed on its merit.

Other people who can ask for a review and when

  • 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 severely injured that they cannot communicate.
  • Businesses, providing they give a named point of contact.
  • Legal persons on behalf of the victim with their consent.
  • Support services acting on behalf of victim with their consent e.g., registered charities in support of victims.
  • As a victim you might ask an individual to act your behalf to request a VRR, such as a solicitor or an MP, charity, or specific service provider to support a victim e.g., Support after Murder and Manslaughter, Women’s Aid, Help for Heroes.

How to apply for a review

  • There is an online form on the website for each police force.
  • Each force has a dedicated point of contact to forward your VRR to, details can be found of the website of each police force.

What happens next

  • The police aim to contact people within ten working days to let them know we have received their request.
  • An officer, who was not involved in the case, will be assigned to review the case. The officer’s role is not to review the previous decision, but to take a fresh look at the evidence and to make their own decision.
  • A review should be completed within 30 working days (i.e., 6 weeks from receipt of the request for a VRR). In complex or sensitive cases, it may take longer. You will be given regular updates.

Outcomes of reviews

There are six potential outcomes of a review:

  1. the new officer reviewing the case agrees with the first decision
  2. the new officer disagrees with the first decision and the suspect is charged by the police, or the decision to charge is sent to the CPS
  3. the original decision is overturned, and the suspect dealt with out of court (an out of court disposal). This is a way of resolving an investigation for offenders of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour.
  4. the new officer disagrees with the decision and the case is sent to the CPS for a decision to charge.
  5. the police decide they need to investigate further so the new officer can decide.
  6. the new officer disagrees with the decision, but the statute of limitations has run out so nothing more can be done.
  • You will be contacted you to let you know the outcome and for an explanation.
  • If you are unhappy with the VRR decision, you can apply to the High Court for a judicial review.
  • If you are not happy with the VRR decision, you can also request to the same police force a VRR appeal to take place – this will be undertaken by an officer/staff of higher rank/grade than the VRR reviewing officer.
  • A VRR appeal review should be completed within 30 working days (i.e., 6 weeks 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 police VRR appeal decision, you can apply to the High Court for a judicial