Recommendations 1 and 2
COPFS should provide guidance on the factors to be considered and the approach to be taken to conducting VRRs – it should be supplemented by workshop training for the core participants involved in such reviews.
COPFS should ensure that the factors taken into account and the reasons for the initial decision and the outcome of the review are recorded in a consistent and standardised manner.
COPFS should ensure that reviews, involving specialist areas of law, including sexual crimes, are conducted by a prosecutor with the relevant specialist skills and expertise regardless of whether the offence(s) is likely to be prosecuted at solemn or summary level.
COPFS should clarify who is responsible for notifying victims of any decision to discontinue proceedings in summary cases that do not fall within the VIA remit and reinforce and embed existing policies regarding notification of decisions not to prosecute and to discontinue proceedings.
Recommendations 5 and 6
COPFS should work towards a system of notifying all victims of decisions not to prosecute, whether through the use of IT solutions or otherwise.
COPFS should undertake a review of the VIA remit to assess whether it remains appropriate following the prosecution policy review.
COPFS should undertake a review to identify all summary offences, involving victims and a statutory time limit, where there is no suitable alternative charge, with a view to extending notification of decisions not to prosecute to such offences.
COPFS should raise awareness in the Procurator Fiscal Offices of the importance of identifying requests from victims to review decisions not to prosecute or to discontinue proceedings and to transfer them without delay to RIU to enable reviews to be completed within any time limits.
COPFS should provide substantive and understandable reasons for initial decisions not to prosecute or to discontinue proceedings to victims who are notified of such decisions.
COPFS policy should reflect that the VRR response should be communicated in a manner consistent with previous communication, in terms of the victim strategy or, in death cases, with the Family Liaison Charter and in accordance with any equality considerations.
COPFS should avoid issuing multiple template holding replies and provide an explanation for the delay and an indication of the timescale for completion for all cases that are likely to take longer than 20 days.