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Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

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Prosecuting Special Crime

Deaths in custody, allegations against the police, corporate manslaughter, medical manslaughter, serious public corruption, election offences, appeals to the House of Lords and extradition are just some of the types of cases dealt with by specialist Crown Prosecutors in the Special Crime Division.

Find out more about extradition

Find out more about how we prosecute bribery and corruption

Find out how we prosecute election offences

Find out more about how we deal with allegations against the police

Find out about our prosecution policy for deaths in custody

Find out about unduly lenient sentences

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

CPS advises first corporate manslaughter charge under new act

23/04/2009

In the first application of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, the Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised a charge of corporate manslaughter against Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd in relation to the death of Alexander Wright on 5 September 2008.

Mr Wright, who was employed by Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings as a junior geologist, was taking soil samples from inside a pit which had been excavated as part of a site survey when the sides of the pit collapsed crushing him.

Peter Eaton, a director of the company has been charged with gross negligence manslaughter and with an offence contrary to Section 37, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.  Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd has also been charged with failing to discharge a duty contrary to Section 33, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Kate Leonard, reviewing lawyer, CPS Special Crime Division, explained:

"Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 an organisation is guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a death and amounts to a gross breach of a duty of care to the person who died.  A substantial part of the breach must have been in the way activities were organised by senior management. I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for this offence."

Mr Eaton will appear at Stroud Magistrates' Court on 17 June.  He faces charges both as an individual and on behalf of the company.

Ends

  1. A conviction for gross negligence manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  Convictions under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 result in a fine.  A conviction for corporate manslaughter attracts an unlimited fine.
  2. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into effect on 6 April 2008.
  3. Media enquiries by email :CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7710 6091, Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  4. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  5. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Organised Crime, Special Crime, Counter-Terrorism and the Fraud Prosecution Service. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 85.1% in 2007-2008. Further information can be found on our website.

    More about the CPS

  6. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol