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COPFS

Victim’s Right to Review (R015797)

Thank you for your request dated 7 April 2017 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information:

"…we are aware that the then Lord Advocate Frank Mullholland set up a review procedure allowing for independent adjudication on behalf of victims of crime whose cases had been dropped. We have been made aware of certain concerns about the availability and public awareness of this process, and its uptake and success thus far.

I am therefore writing to enquire

(i) How many overall queries you have received regarding reviewing cases;

(ii) How many reviews have been commenced and how many have been completed since the inception of this process in July 2015;

(iii) How many reviews have resulted in a case reaching trial;

(iv) If there have been cases that have reached trial, what proportion have resulted in conviction;

(v) What is the process for making people aware of the availability of the review procedure and who mediates this"

The Lord Advocate’s Rules: Review of a Decision not to Prosecute came about as a result of section 4 of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014. They applied to decisions made after 1 July 2015.

It may be of interest to know that the Victims Right to Review First Annual Report is published on the COPFS website and contains some of the information you seek for the first year of the scheme and may be of interest to you. I attach a link to the relevant page of our website for your assistance:

http://www.copfs.gov.uk/publications/business-and-strategy-plans

(i) How many overall queries you have received regarding reviewing cases;

(ii) How many reviews have been commenced and how many have been completed since the inception of this process in July 2015;

Information is not held on how many overall queries have been received regarding reviewing cases, and accordingly, in terms of Section 17 of FOISA, this information is not held.

However, since the inception of the VRR scheme until the end of the financial year 2016/17, 265 requests for review have been received and considered. 222 of those reviews have been completed to date.

(iii) How many reviews have resulted in a case reaching trial;

Of those 222 reviews which have been completed, 24 reviews resulted in the decision being overturned. You should be aware that of those requests for review which were overturned, three requests related to one case and a further two requests related to another case, accordingly, only 21 cases were involved in the 24 requests.

Ten of those cases are currently live. Seven have been concluded without the necessity for a trial as the accused plead guilty or the case was dealt with other than by court proceedings. There have been three trials and in one case, although the decision was overturned, proceedings were not re-raised.

(iv) If there have been cases that have reached trial, what proportion have resulted in conviction;

Of the three cases which have gone to trial, the accused was found guilty in one case, found not guilty in another and in the third case, a plea of not guilty was accepted to the charge concerned.

(v) What is the process for making people aware of the availability of the review procedure and who mediates this

Information on the Victims Right to Review is available on the COPFS website.

Where there is a no action or no further action marking COPFS will proactively advise the victim in all cases involving sexual offences; domestic abuse; stalking; hate crime; knife crime; child victims; vulnerable witnesses; any victim over the age of 60 years and victims where the case would have merited proceedings before a jury. The victim is advised of the fact that there will be no action and of their Right to Review.

In respect of other types of offences, COPFS do not proactively advise the victim. Victims in these cases will be able to get information about their right to review from COPFS and from various other sources such as victims groups including Victim Support Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid. The VRR process is overseen by the Response and Information Unit based in Crown Office.