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UK victims

Interactive decision tree

Interactive decision tree

Please use our interactive tool to understand more about the criminal and civil justice systems and how the two systems can interact. It outlines the main steps, and has been specifically created with the individuals and smaller business victim in mind.

Please carefully read about the main differences between the criminal and civil justice systems before using the decision tree.

Criminal: public prosecution


The police will hand the body of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) (or the Serious Fraud Office if the police think the case is exceptionally serious, complex or high profile), which must satisfy a ‘Full Code Test’ before bringing any prosecution. It must consider that:

• there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction; and

• a prosecution is required in the public interest.

If the CPS decides that the evidence fails the Full Code Test then you will be informed and normally told why. You may challenge this decision by using the Victims Right To Review procedure.

If the CPS decides that the evidence passes the Full Code Test then the defendant will be charged and your details passed to the Witness Care Unit.



Victims right to review

If the CPS decides not to start proceedings then you can ask it to look again at its decision. You should make your request within five days of receiving the CPS decision, but it is possible for the CPS to consider requests for review up to three months later.

Another CPS prosecutor from the same office will then look at the case and decide whether:

• the decision not to charge was right;

• the decision not to charge was right, but you should be given more information; or

• the decision not to charge was wrong.

This should happen within 10 days of your request for review.

If you are unhappy with this review you may request an independent review, which should consider the decision afresh within 30 days.

If the decision is reviewed as being incorrect, then the CPS will attempt to recommence proceedings.



Witness Care Unit

The Witness Care Unit will provide dedicated witness care officers who will guide and support you through the criminal justice system.

Most significantly, the Unit will:

  • tell you if you will be required to give evidence;
  • tell you the dates of the court hearings;
  • give you a copy of the 'Witness in court' leaflet or other relevant leaflet, if you are required to give evidence; and
  • tell you about court results and explain any sentence given within one day of receiving the outcome from the court.