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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

Karen Matthews - CPS charging decision


Peter Mann, Head of the Crown Prosecution Service West and North Yorkshire Complex Casework Unit, today made the following statement in relation to Karen Matthews:

"The Crown Prosecution Service has continued to work with the police in connection with this case since Shannon Matthews was found on Friday 14 March.

"Karen Matthews was arrested on 6 April and has been interviewed by West Yorkshire police.

"Having carefully considered the file supplied by West Yorkshire Police, we have decided that there is sufficient evidence and have authorised that Karen Matthews should be charged with perverting the course of justice and child neglect. She will appear before Dewsbury Magistrates' Court tomorrow morning.

"We will continue to keep this case under review.

"Shannon's disappearance and the events which have unfolded since she was found have attracted an enormous amount of public interest. Karen Matthews now stands accused of these offences and has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that any media reporting is responsible and does not prejudice the due process of law."

  • National media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8079. Local and regional media enquiries to CPS West Yorkshire on 0113 290 2839.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government Department 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;
    • Presentation of cases at court;

    The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). 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 83.7% in 2006-2007. Further information can be found on this website.