Malicious prosecution and the risk to private prosecutors
We often act for businesses who have been the victims of crime. The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (‘the Victims’ Code’) allows an opportunity for the voice of the business to be heard by way of an Impact Statement for Business (ISB).
The purpose of an ISB is to provide businesses, enterprises and charities with the opportunity to address the effect a crime has had on their organisation. This can be an extremely important tool, especially where money has been lost which has had a detrimental effect on the running of the respective organisation. An ISB does not have the same purpose as a witness statement; nevertheless an ISB may be considered by a court, if deemed appropriate, when the judge is determining the sentence to impose on the offender.
An ISB can be made during the police investigation, at the point when witness statements are being taken. An ISB can also be prepared at a later stage by completing an ISB form and sending it to the police contact. It is of note that if an organisation does not take the opportunity to complete an ISB when it is initially offered, the chance to do so later on may be lost. However, in cases that take longer time to bring to the offender to trial an organisation may wish to take their time to provide a comprehensive account in their ISB, and so should make this intention clear to the Police when first asked rather than refusing the offer.
An ISB must:
The ISB should include information about the direct cost the crime has had, in addition to information regarding the wider costs and impact such as reputational damage and the effect on employees. It should only contain information relating to that specific crime, but the exception to this is if the crime is part of repeat offending by the same criminal or organised crime gang. On the contrary, the statement should not include any personal opinion on the sentence that should be imposed.
Once an ISB has been made it cannot be amended, however additional statements may be made where appropriate. The ISB will then be forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’) by the police, and if the case reaches court, the ISB will be disclosed to the defence.
The nominated representative can also elect to have all or part of the ISB read out in court by a CPS advocate, and in some cases, the nominated representative may be questioned on the statement at the hearing.
An ISB provides businesses and enterprises with the opportunity to be part of the criminal justice process by allowing their voice to be heard. The ISB may also assist the judge with making a better informed decision on sentencing by considering the overall effect the crime has had on those involved. Furthermore, as Victim Personal Statements only detail the personal effect of a crime on an individual, an ISB allows the Court to take into account the important impact of a crime on an organisation.
At Kingsley Napley we have a team of criminal and civil litigation specialists with expertise in assisting victims of crime to comprehend the criminal justice system. We can assist you with preparing your ISB, helping you understand your rights in the Victims’ Code and support you through the entire criminal case.
In addition to this, the team can support you with other aspects in relation to reporting a crime, seeking the recovery of financial loss through the civil course and commencing a private prosecution in circumstances when the police or CPS are unwilling to act.
Shannett Thompson is a Senior Associate who specialises in helping individuals and organisations who have been the victim of crime hold offenders to account. She was recognised by Brummel Magazine as ’30 Ones to Watch' list of London’s City stars for 2018.
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