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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.

Find out more about private prosecutions

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 authorises police to charge Robert Napper with the murder of Rachel Nickell


The Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised the Metropolitan Police to charge Robert Napper with the murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992.

The reviewing lawyer, Hilary Bradfield from the Serious Casework Unit, CPS London said:

"I have worked closely with officers from the Metropolitan Police from the earliest stages of this investigation and have given advice to them about evidential and legal matters on an ongoing basis. As the investigation has developed I have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence, and consulting with Rene Barclay, Director of the Serious Casework Unit. It has been a painstaking process and alongside the police we have considered all aspects of the case in detail.

"This week we have reached a decision that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and have authorised the police to charge.

"The media should of course take care in reporting the charge against Robert Napper today. It is extremely important that there is responsible reporting which does not prejudice the due process of law."

Robert Napper will be summonsed for the first hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates Court on 4th December 2007.

  1. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7710 6091.
  2. Proceedings are now active in this case and are subject to the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.