Crime Victims to be Given Right to Challenge Charging Decisions

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has announced that the Government will consult on whether victims of crime, or their families, should be given the right to challenge decisions made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to charge alleged offenders.

 At present the CPS decides whether to charge a suspect based upon the evidence presented to it by the Police following the investigatory process.  The Code for Crown Prosecutors obliges the CPS lawyer to consider various factors when making his or her decision, including whether a prosecution is in the public interest.  If, for instance, the crime is minor or the evidence is weak the Prosecutor has the right to refuse a charge.

The victim of the crime does not have any input in to this process.  The CPS is a Government agency and its lawyers work on behalf of the Crown and the Crown alone.  They do not owe individual victims a duty of care, meaning that even if the decision not to charge is completely flawed or unjustified the victim can do almost nothing about it.  They can pursue a lengthy complaints process, or in some circumstances they can apply for a Judicial Review” of the decision, but both are almost always doomed to failure.  Historically, the Courts have been quick to protect the CPS on the basis that if it is to maintain public confidence in the system charging decisions must only rarely be interfered with.

If the “Victim’s Right to Review” system is brought in the victim or their family will be afforded a right to question the charging decision and to have it reversed if it is found to have been flawed, thereby changing the victim’s role from a mere bystander to an active participant.  This news will be welcomed by victims who often feel strongly that justice has not been served when the decision not to prosecute is made.  However, the knock-on effect is to create uncertainty for suspects who have no guarantee that a decision to abandon the case will, in fact, be the end of the matter.

If you have any complaint or potential damages claim against the Police or other public body call David Mayor for a free consultation on freephone 0800 975 2463, or contact us by email for free expert legal advice.

David Mayor

About David Mayor

David is Head of the Preston Office's Civil Litigation team and deals with all types of private Civil Court disputes. David’s blogs cover his expertise in all aspects of personal injury law from low value Road Traffic Accidents right through to complex large loss claims. David also writes and has a vast array of experience in Public Liability (trips and slips), Employer's Liability (accidents at work), and Motor Claims (motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents).
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