Granting victims an automatic right to review Crown Prosecution Service decisions will be ‘costly, time-consuming and add little to the current process’, a prominent solicitor has claimed.
Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer last week announced plans to allow victims and bereaved relatives to review any CPS decision not to pursue a case. Starmer said the reform could affect around 70,000 cases a year, but will not apply to cases dropped by the police.
Helen Simm, legal director at national firm Pannone specialising in white-collar crime and corporate defence, said there were already too few CPS lawyers to deal with existing caseloads.
‘Few decisions are likely to be overturned and this could lead to frustration that the calls for reviews have brought little result,’ she said.
The ‘victims’ right to review’ was prompted by a 2007 sexual assault case in which the CPS decision not to bring charges was overturned.
Chief executive of charity Victim Support, Javed Khan, said: ‘Too often victims tell us that they don’t have much of a voice in our justice system. This new initiative by the CPS is a step in the right direction and will help to reposition victims back at the heart of our justice system.’