On 25 February 2010 the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, launched the Policy for Prosecutors in respect of cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide.
The policy provides guidance to prosecutors on the public interest factors to take into account in reaching decisions in cases of encouraging or assisting suicide.
The public can have full confidence in the policy the CPS will follow in deciding whether or not to prosecute cases of assisted suicide, the DPP said on publication.
The Director published the policy after taking account of thousands of responses received as part of what is believed to be the most extensive snapshot of public opinion on assisted suicide since the Suicide Act 1961 was introduced. Nearly 5,000 responses were received by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following the consultation exercise launched in September 2009.
The Director said: "The policy is now more focused on the motivation of the suspect rather than the characteristics of the victim. The policy does not change the law on assisted suicide. It does not open the door for euthanasia. It does not override the will of Parliament. What it does is to provide a clear framework for prosecutors to decide which cases should proceed to court and which should not.
"Assessing whether a case should go to court is not simply a question of adding up the public interest factors for and against prosecution and seeing which has the greater number. It is not a tick box exercise. Each case has to be considered on its own facts and merits.
"As a result of the consultation exercise there have been changes to the policy. But that does not mean prosecutions are more or less likely. The policy has not been relaxed or tightened but there has been a change of focus".
Prosecution policy and guidance
This policy document issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions provides guidance to prosecutors on the public interest factors to take into account in reaching decisions in cases of encouraging or assisting suicide. .
Also available as Adobe Acrobat PDF
Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide PDF
Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide PDF - Welsh
Public Consultation Exercise Summary of Responses
Public Consultation Exercise on the Interim Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Assisted Suicide Summary of Responses
This document issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions contains a summary of public responses from nearly 5,000 responses to the assisted suicide consultation undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service in September 2009.
Also available as Adobe Acrobat PDF
Public Consultation Exercise on the Interim Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Assisted Suicide Summary of Responses PDF
Public Consultation Exercise on the Interim Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Assisted Suicide Summary of Responses PDF - Welsh
Press release and DPP's introductory statement published on 25 Feb 2010
- Press release - DPP publishes assisted suicide policy
- DPP's Introductory Remarks on Assisted Suicide Policy
Latest Assisted Suicide Figures
24 April 2015
Cases of assisted suicide are recorded centrally by CPS Headquarters and are dealt with in the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division in the CPS. Our records show the following:From 1 April 2009 up to 24 April 2015, there have been 110 cases referred to the CPS by the police that have been recorded as assisted suicide. Of these 110 cases, 70 were not proceeded with by the CPS. 25 cases were withdrawn by the police.
There are currently 8 ongoing cases. 1 case of assisted attempted suicide was successfully prosecuted in October 2013 and 6 cases were referred onwards for prosecution for homicide or other serious crime.
The figures shown above will be updated every 6 months.
Please note that these figures were previously described as referring to assisted suicide and euthanasia. This was incorrect. These figures relate only to cases of assisted suicide.
Assisted Suicide cases - published decisions
The following are links to public statements made by the Director of Public Prosecutions and other CPS prosecutors on cases where the policy on Assisted Suicide has applied or in cases that are otherwise relevant.
- 15 September 2014 - One woman charged with encouraging or assisting suicide
- 15 January 2014 - Assisted suicide of Dr and Mrs Arnold
- 12 September 2013 - Kevin Howe convicted of assisted attempted suicide
- 27 August 2013 - Man faces charge of assisted attempted suicide
- 31 July 2013 - Court of Appeal assisted suicide judgment - CPS statement
- 2 February 2010 – CPS decides no charges following the death of Jane Hodge
- 16 August 2010 - No charges following death of Caroline Loder
- 25 June 2010 – No charges following death of Raymond Cutkelvin
- 24 May 2010 - Assisted suicide charge not in the public interest (following the death of Margaret Bateman)
- 19 March 2010 - No charges following deaths of Sir Edward and Lady Downes
- 26 January 2010 - Questions about the decision to prosecute Kay Gilderdale
- 9 December 2008 – No charges following death by suicide of Daniel James