Victim Rights: Calls For Review After CPS Admit Rape Trial Was Wrongly Dropped

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Victim Rights: Calls For Review After CPS Admit Rape Trial Was Wrongly Dropped

Victims have the ability to have their cases reviewed under the Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) scheme following the original decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to pursue, or to drop, a prosecution. The scheme has come under the spotlight following the decision of Jade McCrossen-Nethercott to sue the CPS for taking the decision to offer no evidence in a matter where she was the complainant in a rape case which the CPS later admitted, following a review of the evidence, should never have been dropped.

In Miss McCrossen-Nethercott’s case, the prosecution could not be re-instigated despite the findings under the VRR scheme as the defendant had been formally acquitted following the decision of the CPS to offer no evidence.

The case has understandably led to calls for an urgent review into victims’ rights.

For the latest available figures, in the year to March 2021, the CPS received 1,961 VRR requests from victims following an initial decision not to prosecute. In 270 cases, this original decision was overturned. That means that in nearly 14% of cases, the CPS accepted that the original decision not to prosecute was wrong.

If this wasn’t concerning enough, in 2021/22, the BBC found 60 examples of the CPS admitting to wrongly dropping cases, where they could no longer be pursued due to no evidence being offered, as in the case highlighted above. This is very likely to lead to a number of other cases being brought against the CPS by failed victims.

Questions will be asked about the quality of decision making by the CPS. On the one hand, it could be argued that under the system of quality control, which is effectively what the VRR is, the police and CPS got it right in 86% of the cases looked at. On the other hand, in 14% of cases, they didn’t.

The VRR is now long established, having been launched in 2013. It is also an entitlement included in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.

A request for review through the VRR scheme will usually be considered and completed by the appropriate local CPS office, or by CPS Direct (CPSD), where the original decision was made. There is a separate scheme for reviewing Police decisions not to pursue or to close investigations.

Both VRR schemes are subject to tight timeframes. In the case of a CPS decision a victim must respond within 10 days. With the Police the timeframe is normally speaking three months from the decision to close the investigation.

At JMW we are committed to assisting victims of crime to ensure that effective representations are made to the Police or CPS to ensure that their voices are heard when they wish for their cases to be reconsidered, because, as can be seen from the above statistics, the original decision not to prosecute is wrong in approximately 1 in 7 cases. 

Please contact us if you have been the victim of crime and have been told that your case is not going to be pursued to court. We can help you obtain the correct outcome in your case.

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