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CPS publishes Guidance on Charging Offences arising from Driving Incidents following public consultation


The Crown Prosecution Service has today published its Guidance on Charging Offences arising from Driving Incidents. The two most significant changes from previous guidance concern drivers in emergencies and deaths where the victim is a close friend or relative of the driver.

Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: "This guidance strikes the right balance between protecting the public and recognising that there are situations when a prosecution for a driving offence may not be in the public interest. Prosecutors will look at all of the facts of a case when making charging decisions.

"If a driver was responding to an emergency and took proper care, a prosecution is very unlikely to be in the public interest, but nothing in this guidance excuses recklessness or taking unjustifiable risks."

In cases involving drivers in emergencies, prosecutors will consider:

  • The nature of the emergency known to or reasonably perceived by the driver. For example, whether the driver was responding to a 999 call in compliance with the agreed operating practice in that service;
  • The level of culpability of the driver (including the nature of the driving); and
  • Whether there is evidence the driver may be a continuing danger to others. For example, such evidence may include relevant convictions or internal disciplinary proceedings against the driver.

The guidance for prosecutors considering cases where the victim is a family member or close friend of the driver has also been revised.

Mr Starmer said: "A driver who makes a genuine mistake that ends the life of a close friend or family member will bear a particularly heavy responsibility.

"Following the death of a close friend or family member, it will be presumed that a prosecution is in the public interest, but the emotional trauma suffered by the driver and the consequences of bringing a prosecution for those closest to the victim and driver will be taken into account. These factors will be weighed against the driver's culpability and a driver who continues to pose a danger to others is likely to be prosecuted."

The publication of this guidance follows a public consultation. The guidance and the summary of responses (pdf document - opens in new window) to the consultation can be found on the CPS website.


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  3. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Division, Special Crime and Counter Terrorism, and Organised Crime. In 2011-2012, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Department of Health (DoH) prosecution functions were transferred to the CPS. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  4. In 2010-2011 the CPS employed around 7,745 people and prosecuted 957,881 cases with 116,898 of these in the Crown Court, and the remaining 840,983 in the magistrates' courts. Of those we prosecuted, 93,106 defendants were convicted in the Crown Court and 727,491 in the magistrates' courts. In total 86% of cases prosecuted resulted in a conviction. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
  5. 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. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.