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Policy position

Independent right to review for victims of crime

Victims of crime should have access to an independent victim right to review scheme to provide for improved transparency and accountability in police and prosecution decision making

While Victoria does not have a scheme that provides victims with a right to an independent (external) review of police and prosecutorial decisions. The possibility of a review scheme in Victoria has been raised in a number of inquiries, primarily out of concerns that we don’t know enough about the quality of investigatory and prosecutorial decision making.  

Calls have been made to introduce more independence and accountability into decision making by police and prosecution. 

Victims’ participation increasingly involves holding agencies accountable for their conduct. The VOCC considers that accountability includes a victim being able to seek some form of external review of significant decisions, particularly decisions made with a high degree of discretion. 

the VOCC considers that an independent right to review scheme in Victoria is needed to provide victims with an avenue to seek independent review of certain police and prosecutorial decisions after proper internal review processes have been exhausted. 

Police and prosecutors make many and difficult decisions. In any exercise of public power, there are benefits in processes of review and accountability. These include improving the quality of decision making and providing transparency and accountability. A model of review would help to address concerns about whether misconceptions and biases are affecting decision making. 

The VOCC considers that there are ways to introduce independent review mechanisms that do not interfere with the duties of police or prosecutors or erode their independence.  

The VOCC recommends that an independent victim right to review scheme be introduced. A review scheme should be underpinned by new rights in the Victims’ Charter and enable certain decisions at both the investigatory and prosecutorial stages of the process to be reviewed after internal mechanisms have been exhausted.  

The VOCC considers the structure and make-up of the review mechanism to be a matter for government following extensive victim and stakeholder consultation. 

To ensure victims can participate meaningfully in any new review process, victims should also have access to independent legal advice and assistance to facilitate their participation.

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