Victims and survivors urged to contact review panel
“I contacted the panel and got a response really quickly. It was such a relief to feel that someone was listening and taking my enquiry seriously.”
Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse are being urged to contact a scheme which helps to achieve the justice they deserve during a month-long campaign which launches today, Monday 18 September and concludes on Friday 13 October.
The Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel (CSARP), which is a joint enterprise between the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), looks again at cases where a victim or survivor feel the decision to take no further action (NFA) in an investigation was unjust and would like the result to be reconsidered.
The panel consider reported allegations of child sexual offences before 5 June 2013 and look at whether the approach taken by the police or CPS was wrong. They then advise whether the allegations should be reinvestigated and/ or reviewed.
To do this, they look at information requested of and provided by the relevant police force or CPS area, to decide whether to advise that the original decision was correct or if further action should be taken.
If the decision is made to reinvestigate or review the case, it will be referred back to the police force or CPS area from where the case originated for them to decide on the action to be taken.
If the panel agrees with the original decision to take no further action, the victim or survivor is informed by letter with specialist help and support provided or signposted. There is no appeal point beyond the panel.
Ian Critchley, National Police Chiefs’ Council – Lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigation said:
“If you are a victim of non-recent child sexual abuse who is unhappy with the decision made previously made by police or the Crown Prosecution Service, I urge you to contact the Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel.
“You will be treated with empathy and respect and listened too in a place you feel safe. We know only too well the lifelong harm abuse has on a child, and it’s important you feel confident that you will be supported, heard and believed.
“Investigating non-recent child sexual abuse is one of the most complex and challenging areas of policing. The approach today to tackling child sexual abuse has evolved and is much improved in many aspects. However, there is still much for us to do, and making these improvements is a significant priority for national policing.
“We remain dedicated to our relentless pursuit of offenders and work determinedly to bring them to justice as we tackle this most abhorrent abuse. Every child has the right to thrive in our society, protected from harm and supported by the institutions trusted with their care.”
Nicola Haywood, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor and CPS Child Sex Abuse lead, said:
“Words can never fully describe the lifelong trauma of child sex abuse. Victims deserve the best possible chance to get justice for the actions of their abusers.
“Unfortunately, in some cases there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, but the panel has demonstrated our collective determination with police and others to look once again at whether there are new avenues for investigation and prosecution.
“In the past 10 years, since the panel was established, we have reviewed more than 200 cases. If you are an abuse victim who has been unhappy your case never reached a court, please get in touch with the Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel, to have your case re-considered by our panel of experts.”
The CSARP was set up in June 2013 to look again at cases that were not covered by the Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) scheme. VRR was introduced to make it easier for victims to seek a review of a CPS decision not to bring charges or to terminate all proceedings; however, the VRR only applies to decisions made on or after 5 June 2013.
CSARP consists of a Chief Crown Prosecutor, a chief police officer, a specialist prosecutor, an experienced child abuse police investigator, and an appropriate independent representative who meet quarterly to consider whether the approach taken by the police or CPS was wrong and advises whether the allegations should be reinvestigated by the police, or the prosecution decision reviewed by the CPS.
Cases will be considered if:
The report is about an alleged sexual offence against the victim or survivor.
The victim or survivor is referring to a report previously made to the police about the sexual offence.
A decision to take no further action was taken by the police or by the CPS.
The alleged sexual offences was committed when the victim or survivor was under 18 years of age.
The alleged offender may still pose a risk.
The alleged offence was committed in England and Wales.
The case was investigated and marked no further action by police or CPS before 5 June 2013.
It is important to note that even if the victim or survivor has previously asked the police or the CPS to look at the decision they made, their case will still be considered.
Cases will not be considered if:
The victim or survivor hasn’t previously reported the matter to the police as this will therefore be a new complaint that the police will need to investigate.
New evidence has come to light prompting a fresh investigation by the police.
The case was investigated and marked no further action by police or CPS after 5 June 2013.