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The Role of The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
  • determining any charges in more serious or complex cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court

Find out more about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service

Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Crown Prosecution Service statement: Paddington train crash


Following the £4 million fine imposed on Network Rail today for an offence under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Chris Newell, CPS Principal Legal Advisor, said:

"Today’s sentence is the final act in these proceedings, in which Network Rail has been held accountable for the disastrous and inexcusable failures that led directly to the appalling tragedy of 5 October 1999. Thirty one people lost their lives in that tragedy; and the lives of many others, particularly the families of those who died, were shattered. We have placed statements from a number of those most deeply affected before the judge, so that he could be in no doubt as to the lasting effects of the tragedy.

"British Transport Police conducted exhaustive enquiries and produced thousands of pages of evidence. The evidence led to the inescapable conclusion that Network Rail failed utterly in its responsibility to protect the health and safety of the passengers in its care.

"For the BTP and the CPS, today draws to a close the work that began seven and a half years ago. We are acutely aware that the events of 5 October 1999 will stay with many for all time."

  1. CPS has released four previous statements in this case. The first, on 9 May 2000, was a decision not to prosecute (Ref: 115/00). Following the Cullen Inquiry, on 24 October 2001 we advised BTP that a further investigation could not be justified (Ref: 132/01). On 22 May 2002 we advised BTP to conduct further limited enquiries (124/02). On 6 December 2005 we announced our decision to prosecute Network Rail for one offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Previous CPS statements are available on this website in the Archived Press Releases section.
  2. A chronology is available on request.
  3. All media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8127.