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RIGHT TO REVIEW CPS DECISIONS ON PROSECUTION

DPP enshrines victims’ right to review of prosecution decisions

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has today (5 June 2013) launched a new policy that enshrines a victim’s right to request a review of any decision taken by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to not charge a suspect or to stop a prosecution.

Mr Starmer said:

“The new Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) policy is one of the most significant victim initiatives ever launched by the CPS. It provides victims with a straight-forward opportunity to ask the CPS to look again at a decision to not start, or to stop, a prosecution. It not only demonstrates how attitudes to victims have changed; it also clearly shows how the CPS has changed.

The criminal justice system historically treated victims as bystanders and accordingly gave them little say in their cases. The decisions of prosecutors were rarely reversed because it was considered vital that decisions, even when later shown to be questionable, were final and could be relied upon. This approach was intended to inspire confidence, but in reality it had the opposite effect. Refusing to admit mistakes can seriously undermine public trust in the criminal justice system.

It is now recognised by the criminal justice system that the interests of justice and the rights of the victim can outweigh the suspect’s right to certainty. This is already reflected in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, but more needs to be done to correct this historic imbalance and ensure that the people affected by our decisions can hold us to account.”

A three-month public consultation on the scope and workings of the policy begins today.

Comment

This announcement does not affect prosecutions taken by HSE. However, HSE and other health and safety regulators follow the CPS Code for Crown Prosecutors and it is likely that HSE policy in this area will eventually mirror the approach adopted by the CPS.

The current HSE victims policy recognises the importance of engaging with victims of health and safety crimes and is kept under “continuous review to allow for any developments”.

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