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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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Charging decision regarding shooting of Mark Saunders

18/09/2009

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided that no charges will be brought against any of the Metropolitan Police Service officers involved in the fatal shooting of the barrister Mark Saunders in West London on 6 May 2008.

Sally Walsh, reviewing lawyer from the CPS Special Crime Division, said: "Following the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the shooting of Mark Saunders, I have reviewed the evidence and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to charge any officer in relation to these sad events.

"The police arrived at Markham Square in Chelsea shortly before 5pm after receiving reports of shots being fired. A siege then began, centred on Mr Saunders' home, which lasted for more than four hours. The fatal shots were fired at around 9:30pm when seven officers fired 11 rounds at Mr Saunders.

"In reaching my decision, I considered charges of murder, attempted murder and manslaughter against the officers who shot, and shot at, Mr Saunders. All of the firearms officers have stated they were acting in self-defence or in defence of colleagues. It would be for the prosecution to prove that any officer was not acting in self-defence or defence of his fellow officers.

"Therefore a prosecution for any of these offences would require, amongst other things, the CPS to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the officers did not honestly and genuinely believe that either they or others were in immediate danger. I have decided there is no realistic prospect of proving this beyond reasonable doubt.

"I also considered charges of gross negligence manslaughter, misconduct in public office and Health & Safety At Work Act offences against the officers in charge of the operation. After reviewing the evidence, I have decided that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction against any of these officers for any of these offences.

"We recognise this was a tragic incident and that Mr Saunders was in a distressed state at the time of his death, but the police have a duty to protect the public and the right to defend themselves.

"I have informed Mrs Saunders of my decision and would again like to offer her my sympathies. I have also offered to meet her in order to provide a more detailed explanation."

Ends

  1. Media enquiries by email : CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7710 6088, Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  2. Shooting to cause fatal injury when dealing with individuals who are believed to pose an immediate and lethal threat to others is in accordance with ACPO guidance.
  3. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has seen and approved this decision.
  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). These are organised into 14 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior 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 8,250 people and prosecuted 1,032,598 cases with an overall conviction rate of 86.6% in 2008-2009. 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