What are my options if the police decide ‘no further action’?

This is guest article was provided to us by Hayyin Fan, a solicitor in the abuse claims team at law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp.

When an abuse survivor hears the words ‘no further action’ from the police, it can be devastating after finding the courage to come forward. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the road in their hunt for justice.

Here we look at the two ways cases can be reviewed, which depends on when the ‘no further action’ decision was made.

The criminal justice process for abuse survivors

One of the first options that survivors of abuse will consider in seeking justice for what has happened to them is reporting it to the police. Deciding whether to start the criminal process can be difficult for survivors, as speaking out about something as traumatic as childhood abuse is often a significant step to take. It is not uncommon for people to report their experiences of abuse many years after it has happened for various reasons, such as the impact the abuse has had on one’s mental health.

Reporting abuse to the police is part of the criminal process, which involves the police investigating the complaint and gathering evidence before they decide whether to present their findings to the CPS. The CPS will then decide whether there is sufficient evidence to charge the abuser and for a criminal prosecution to take place.

Whether a criminal trial takes place is dependent on whether the abuser admits or denies the allegations. The trial and potential sentencing would be heard at the criminal courts, and the abuser would usually receive a criminal conviction, and often a custodial sentence, if the prosecution is successful.

Survivors of abuse can find themselves being told their case has been marked “no further action” (NFA) by either the police or the CPS following an investigation. This can be extremely disappointing for survivors, particularly after they have bravely shared their experiences to the police with the aim of seeking justice and closure as part of their recovery process.

‘No further action’ decision before 5 June 2013

If you reported allegations of child sexual offences which were marked NFA before 05 June 2013, and the alleged offence was committed in England and Wales, you can request the Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel (“CSARP”) re-visits the decision, if you feel that it was unjust.

The CSARP will consider whether the original decision was correct, whether the allegations should be re-investigated by the police or whether the CPS should review its prosecution decision. The panel takes into account how there have changes made to the police service and the criminal justice system approach to child sexual abuse cases over the years. If the panel agrees your case should be reconsidered, they will refer it back to either the police force or the CPS that originally dealt with your case.

There is a dedicated email address to refer your case to the panel which is: nationalpanel@npcc.police.uk

‘No further action’ decision after 5 June 2013

If you reported allegations of child sexual offences which were marked NFA after 05 June 2013, your case would fall under the Victim’s Right to Review. This gives survivors of abuse the right to ask for a review of a CPS decision not to charge their abuser.

At Bolt Burdon Kemp, people often approach us at the very start of their recovery process and may have only recently reported their abuse to the police for the first time. We are committed to supporting survivors to heal and achieve justice, and the team of experts we have here are ready to help you.

We specialise in supporting survivors through the process of making a civil claim, which is the legal route of pursuing financial compensation in respect of abuse through the civil courts.

Financial compensation can never undo what an abuser has done, but it can assist survivors to rebuild their lives and provide financial security for their future needs.

If you have experienced abuse and would like to discuss the legal options available to you, please contact our specialist Abuse Team at Bolt Burdon Kemp for free and confidential advice on the right option for you.

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