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Crime victims now allowed to appeal if suspects are not prosecuted

Director of Public Prosecutions claims victims have historically been treated as 'bystanders'

Victims of crimes not pursued by the authorities will no longer be treated as forgotten "bystanders" in the criminal justice system under plans to give them the right to appeal decisions not to prosecute suspects.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has launched a consultation on proposals for the new Victims' Right to Review policy, which covers any decision taken by the Crown Prosecution Service not to charge a suspect. The new policy was prompted by a Court of Appeal ruling in 2011, which reversed a CPS decision not to bring sexual assault charges against a disabled man.

After Christopher Killick was jailed for sexually abusing two fellow cerebral palsy sufferers, the judges ordered that "as a decision not to prosecute is in reality a final decision for a victim, there must be a right to seek a review of such a decision".

Mr Starmer said: "The criminal justice system historically treated victims as bystanders and accordingly gave them little say in their cases... Refusing to admit mistakes can seriously undermine public trust in the criminal justice system."

Any victim of crime, including bereaved family members, will now be able to ask the CPS to re-examine a case following such decisions.