Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Prosecution policy – assisted suicide guidance

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Chapter 5 of the book discusses, among other topics, the discretion to prosecute. It sets out an extract from the Code for Crown Prosecutors on the issue.

There has been considerable public debate in recent months about how the policy of prosecution should apply in cases of assisted suicide. How will a person who assisted a terminally ill patient to die be treated? Will they be prosecuted or not?

Following comments made by judges in the House of Lords in the Debbie Purdy case, the DPP has sought to clarify the guidelines prosecutors should use when deciding whether or not it would be in the public interest to bring a prosecution against someone who has assisted a person to die. He has published interim guidelines which set out the factors that might result in a prosecution being launched, and those that might lead to a decision not to prosecute. The interim guidance does not  alter the law as set down in the Suicide Act 1961.

The public is invited to comment on the guidelines. The DPP plans to issue final, revised, guidelines in Spring 2010. The current text is at


Written by lwtmp

September 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Chapter 5

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