Private Prosecution

Victims have no right to review a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute. However you can choose to initiate private proceedings. There is no legal aid available for this and if the case goes to Crown Court, you will need to involve legal counsel. The Director of Public Prosecutions - ie the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service - may take over the case at any time, and decide to discontinue it.

In many cases it will be easier and more effective to bring a civil claim for damages rather than starting a private prosecution. The standard of proof is lower and a wider range of evidence may be used. However, a successful civil claim will only result in an award of compensation, which may not be enforcable (if the criminal has no money) or it may not satisfy the need for justice in the way that a criminal conviction would.

There is no duty on the state to prosecute a person suspected of a crime simply because there is sufficient evidence. However the Human Rights Act means that the interests of the victim should be taken into account in making these decisions in a more formal way than was previously the case. In making decisions not to prosecute a suspect the prosecuting authorities will have to take account of the rights of victims to security of the person, and to their right to a private and family life.

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