Victims' Right to Review: report, Complaints Handling and Feedback: follow-up

The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland's report on the Victims' Right to Review and a follow-up report on Complaints Handling and Feedback.

Part I – Victims' Right to Review


Victims' Right to Review

The Victims' Right to Review ( VRR) scheme was introduced by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) on 1 July 2015. [1] The VRR scheme gives victims the right to request a review of a decision by COPFS not to prosecute a criminal case or to discontinue criminal proceedings that have commenced. [2]

For victims of crime or bereaved relatives, contact with the criminal justice system is unfamiliar and often traumatic. Providing reasons for such decisions is essential to retain confidence and to deliver accountability and transparency to those whose lives have been affected and allows victims to make an informed decision on whether to submit a VRR.

To place the number of VRRs in context, between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, COPFS received 195,731 criminal reports [3] of which there were 50,729 cases where there was a decision not to prosecute or to discontinue a prosecution. [4] Over the same period, 166 applications seeking a review were received [5] equating to one review for every 306 cases where a decision was taken not to prosecute or to discontinue criminal proceedings. Of these 146 were upheld or withdrawn and 17 (10%) were overturned.


The aim of the inspection was to assess the operational effectiveness of the COPFS Victims' Right to Review Scheme having regard to:

  • The effectiveness of procedures and processes;
  • The quality and robustness of reviews; and
  • The communication and contact with victims.


We adopted a mixed-method approach which combined the following evidence‑gathering methods:

Interviews with key personnel involved in allocating, monitoring and conducting reviews in COPFS and personnel involved in VRR schemes in other UK jurisdictions;

Document Review: A review of COPFS departmental protocols, policies, rules, guidance and management information and VRR schemes in other UK jurisdictions; and

Case Review: We examined a significant sample of 55 cases – in two there were two victims who submitted a VRR – resulting in 57 VRR applications.


We wish to thank all who participated in the review and shared their experience and knowledge.


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