Last week an interesting case came before the Court of Appeal.
A father abducted two children who lived with his estranged wife. He was prosecuted and convicted. The mother of the children believed that her husband’s sister had also been involved. The sister was not charged with any offence. The mother asked the Crown Prosecution Service to review the decision not to prosecute the sister.
First, a bit of background. A few years ago, the CPS introduced a scheme which allowed the victim of a crime to challenge a decision not to prosecute the offender. This is called the Right of Review Scheme. But the Scheme does not permit a review where a decision has been made to charge one or more, but not all, of those believed to be guilty of an offence.
The mother asked the Court of Appeal to say that the scheme was unlawful. She argued that the relevant European Directive, which was behind the Scheme, did not require the Scheme to be restricted in the way the CPS had chosen to do. The right to review should not be artificially limited in that way, she argued.
The Court of Appeal, confirming the earlier decision of the High Court, decided that the Directive allowed the CPS to impose limits on the scheme. So, the mother’s claim failed.
Interestingly, since the original decision was taken, the CPS has revised the Right to Review Scheme to allow for the review of the decision to prosecute one or more suspects, but not others, if there are exceptional circumstances. “Exceptional circumstances“ are not defined and it is not known whether the mother’s case would now qualify for review under the Victim’s Right to Review Scheme.
If you have been the Victim of crime and would like advice on your dealings with the police or with CPS please contact Hugh Rowland etc etc