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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 advises no charges against Edwin Pitkin


The Crown Prosecution Service today announced that Mr Edwin Pitkin will not face charges for the death of Mr Mark Woods at Mr Pitkin's home in Enfield, London, in February this year. Mr Woods was fatally stabbed in the chest during a struggle with Mr Pitkin as he attempted to gain entry to his house.

Following a full review of the circumstances surrounding Mr Woods' tragic death, CPS London has concluded that there is no realistic prospect of conviction for any offence arising out of his death.

Mr Rene Barclay, Director of Complex Casework said: "In order to prove the offence of Murder or Manslaughter we have to prove that Mr Pitkin killed Mark Woods unlawfully and not in self defence or in defence of another.

"A person is entitled to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purpose of self defence, the defence of another, the defence of property or the prevention of crime.

"In assessing the reasonableness of the force used we have to take account of the circumstances as Mr Pitkin believed them to be. We therefore concluded that there was no realistic prospect of conviction in this case because there was insufficient evidence to establish Mark Woods was unlawfully killed."

  1. At around midnight on the night of Friday 29 February 2008 Mr Pitkin awoke to the noise of Mark Woods outside his front door trying to gain entry into his house. Mark Woods was very drunk.
  2. Mr Pitkin armed himself with a knife from his kitchen in response to the threat posed by Mark Woods.
  3. On Mr Pitkin opening his front door, Mark Woods continued to try to gain entry to Mr Pitkin's home, falsely believing in his drunken state that he lived there and was being prevented from entering.
  4. Mr Pitkin told the police that during the struggle to prevent Mark Woods from entering the address Mark Woods threatened to stab Mr Pitkin's eyes out with some keys he held in his clenched hands. At that point Mr Pitkin reacted by stabbing Mark Woods once in the chest. Following his death the keys were later discovered in Mark Woods's clenched hand.
  5. There was no forensic evidence, eye witness evidence or CCTV imagery which supports any suggestion that Mr Woods was killed unlawfully.
  6. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7710 6088.
  7. 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.