The Public consultation on the Interim Guidance on Victims’ Right to Review ends today (5 September 2013), comments can be emailed to: VRR.Consultation@cps.gsi.gov.uk
Our comments on the consultation are below.
Dear CPS consultation team/ VRR team,
Church Survivors request that the Victims' Right to Review process (VRR) is extended to cover historic cases of child sexual abuse. Church Survivors want the process of CPS review to include cases that collapsed - at trial or en route to trial - due to mistakes made by the Police or CPS in the investigation, presentation and prosecution of a case.
VRR: Point 30: 'It is an important principle that people should be able to rely on decisions taken by the CPS as being final and that such decisions should not ordinarily be revoked. However, we also recognise that a careful balance must be struck between providing certainty to the public in our decision making and not allowing wrong decisions to stand. It is right, therefore, that the CPS will sometimes have to look again at a prosecution decision, and change it if it is found to be wrong, in order to maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system. If a decision is found to be wrong, it may be necessary to commence or re-institute criminal proceedings.'
We believe that the VRR should be extended to cover historic cases of child sexual abuse.
The Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel appears to be a positive development but it does not cover historic cases of child sexual abuse that went to trial and collapsed at court, or en route to court, due to mistakes made by the Police or CPS in the investigation, presentation and prosecution of a case.
Changes to either or both the VRR, and the CSAR panel, would help survivors to access justice that has been denied to them and restore confidence in the justice system.
The CPS had successful outcomes in only 55% of its Crown Court cases (2011/12). In 2011, one third of cracked or ineffective trials in England and Wales were the result of the prosecution failing to offer evidence, not being ready, or a prosecution witness being absent. (In the Public Interest: Reforming the Crown Prosecution Service: Karen Sosa, Policy Exchange: http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/in-the-public-interest-reforming-the-crown-prosecution-service).
Making these changes to either the VRR or the CSAR panel, will help survivors to access justice that has been denied to them, and will restore confidence in the justice system.
Church Survivors, 5 Sept 2013