How to challenge our decisions
If you have any questions or need more information about a decision we have made on an appeal, a review or an investigation, please contact the person dealing with your case. This is often the easiest way to explain the reasons for the decision and answer any questions you have.
You should be aware that, except in limited circumstances, our appeal, review and investigation decisions are final. This means that the decisions we make and communicate to those involved in our cases can only be challenged and overturned through the judicial review process. For this reason we do not accept complaints about our case decisions.
The following information will help you understand what to consider if you are unhappy with a case-related decision made by the IOPC.
Judicial review challenges the decisions and acts of a public body on the basis that it has not acted lawfully in making that decision.
Judicial review is not an appeal and should not be used if you disagree with a public body’s decision. It is a formal legal process where a judge can examine the decision being challenged and consider whether the law has been followed correctly by the public body in making that decision.
In the vast majority of circumstances, a judge cannot change the decision that the public body has made. However, if they find that that the public body has not acted lawfully in making its decision, there are several potential next steps.
For example, the court could issue an order which overturns or undoes the decision being challenged so that it has no legal effect, or an order that stops a public body from taking an unlawful decision or action that it has not yet taken.
After you contact us, if you are still unhappy with a decision we have made , you can apply to court for a judicial review. Please note that this process may cost you money (e.g. court and legal fees) and there is no guarantee of success.
Applications for judicial review should be made promptly, and certainly within three months of the decision being challenged. We recommend that you seek independent legal advice if you are considering this course of action.
Further information about judicial reviews can be found at:
At the end of an IOPC investigation we produce a report setting out what happened, what evidence our investigators found and our analysis of the evidence. We also make decisions about:
- whether the police officers/staff involved should face any disciplinary action or action to improve their performance
- whether, in certain circumstances, to refer matters to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS is responsible for deciding whether anyone should be charged with a criminal offence.
The Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) scheme applies to most of our independent and managed/directed investigations where we have conducted a criminal investigation.
It gives victims the right to request a review if we have decided not to refer a criminal investigation to the CPS for a charging decision. The scheme applies to decisions about CPS referrals made on or after 1 December 2020.
- We classify someone as a victim where they:
allege that they suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss, which was directly caused by a criminal offence, or
- have had an allegation made on their behalf, or
- have been contacted as a victim in the course of an IOPC investigation
A victim can also be a close relative of a person who died during or following police contact, where it is alleged their death was directly caused by a criminal offence. A ‘close relative’ refers to the victim’s spouse, partner, parents, siblings or any dependents. In certain circumstances other family members, including guardians and carers, may also be considered.
Requests for review may be received from someone acting on behalf of a victim in certain circumstances. This will be considered on a case by case basis, and we may need to obtain the written authorisation of the victim.
If you are a victim and the VRR scheme applies to you, we will notify you of your right to ask for a review when we tell you about our provisional decision not to make a referral to the CPS.
Requests under the VRR scheme should normally be made within 28 days of the date of the letter notifying you of the above decision.
However, some offences have a statutory time limit; this means that a person must be charged within six months of committing the alleged offence. If a charging time limit applies, we may require that a VRR request is submitted more quickly. We will let you know if this is the case.
If the request is made after the specified deadline, we will ask why your request is late. If there are exceptional circumstances for the delay, we may still consider it.
When a VRR is requested, a ‘reviewer’ will be allocated. The reviewer will have had no decision-making role in the investigation. Wherever possible, the reviewer will not:
- be based in the office where the investigation was conducted
- be based in the same office as the person who made the provisional decision not to make a referral to the CPS
The reviewer will consider the investigation report and have access to the evidence gathered during the investigation. They will also take into account why you feel a referral to the CPS should be made, provided that you submit your views before the relevant deadline.
The reviewer will aim to carry out the review as quickly as possible and within 28 days. This timeframe will be shorter where the offences involved have a statutory time limit for charging.
If the reviewer determines that the provisional decision not to refer the matter to the CPS should stand, then that provisional decision will be confirmed. Otherwise, it will be replaced with a new decision about whether to make a referral to the CPS.
We will notify you about the outcome to the VRR process. You will not be able to request a further review once we have let you know the VRR outcome.
Should you wish to challenge the review decision, you can apply for a judicial review (please refer to the section above for more details).
From February 2020, the IOPC has the power to require a re-investigation.
We can use this power from the point when a report on a directed or independent investigation of a complaint, recordable conduct matter or death or serious injury matter has been completed and sent to an IOPC decision maker for them to make end of investigation decisions.
A conduct matter is any matter which is not and has not been the subject of a complaint, where there is an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings.
The decisions made at the end of an investigation include decisions about referral to the CPS, whether any officers/staff should face disciplinary proceedings, etc. This power cannot be used to reinvestigate a local or managed investigation.
We only use this power where we are satisfied that there are compelling reasons to do so. To find compelling reasons, we must be satisfied that:
- the original investigation was flawed in a way that had a material impact on subsequent decisions on discipline, performance and/or referral to the CPS; and/or
- there is significant new information that requires further investigation and a real possibility that the new information, had it been available, would have led wholly or partly to different decisions on discipline, performance and/or referral to the CPS; and
it is necessary to require a re-investigation in the public interest
Where there is an indication that a re-investigation may be necessary, we will carry out an initial assessment of the information already available to us.
The list below describes circumstances that may trigger an initial assessment. This list is not exhaustive or prescriptive. We may also decide to carry out an initial assessment at any time.
- new information, which appears to be material or significant
- representations from a third party
- different conclusions on the evidence reached by a court or tribunal (e.g. an inquest) which indicate a material deficiency in the original investigation
Following this initial assessment, we will determine whether a review is necessary. A review will be necessary where we have reason to believe that the original investigation was materially flawed, and/or there is significant new information that requires further investigation.
The review will not involve or constitute any further investigation. The reviewer, who will be sufficiently independent from the original investigation, will consider whether a re-investigation is required. This decision will be based on an examination of the original investigation and consideration of any alleged material flaws or new information.
After the review we will make a final decision about whether to re-investigate. This will be based on whether there are compelling reasons to do so.
If it is decided that a re-investigation is required, we will then determine whether it will be an independent or a directed investigation.
If you have information that could be considered to be compelling reasons to re-investigate a directed or independent investigation, you should write to the person responsible for the case.
Any written representations must do more than simply disagree with the original findings of the investigation. You must highlight potential material flaws or significant new evidence. This will then be assessed as above and passed for a review, if appropriate.
We will let you know the outcome of our assessment and explain the decision about whether to reinvestigate or not.
If you disagree with the way we have dealt with your Freedom of Information (FOI) request, you can request an internal review of the decision to the FOI appeals officer. You must do this within 40 working days of our decision notice to you. We aim to respond to a request for internal review within 20 working days.
Please write to:
Data Protection Officer
Independent Office for Police Conduct
10 South Colonnade
You have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office if you are not satisfied with the outcome of your internal review.