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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

The Role of The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
  • determining any charges in more serious or complex cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court

Find out more about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service

DPP announces decision on "aircraft bomb" plot retrial


The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, has decided to seek a retrial of three defendants in the "aircraft bomb" plot after a jury was unable to reach verdicts on these men.

Mr Starmer said: "I have considered very carefully whether to seek a retrial of Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman on the charge of conspiracy to murder.

"In coming to a conclusion, I have read and considered material prepared for me by the prosecution team and I have discussed the matter in detail with leading counsel for the prosecution and the Head of the Counter Terrorism Division in the Crown Prosecution Service.

"Although I recognise that it is common practice for prosecutors in England and Wales to offer no evidence against a defendant if two previous juries have been unable to agree, that is no more than a convention and my task is to judge whether, taking into account all relevant considerations, the public interest is better served in this particular case by offering no evidence or by seeking a further retrial.

"Having taken into account the views of the prosecution team, I am satisfied that, notwithstanding the failure of two juries to agree a verdict, there remains a realistic prospect of a conviction against each defendant on the charge of conspiracy to murder. That being the case, I have considered the public interest factors for and against a further retrial.

"Having regard to the very serious nature of the charge and the very considerable public interest in having the allegation determined by a jury one way or the other, I have concluded that, in this exceptional case, it is in the public interest to seek a further retrial.

"I have taken into account submissions made to me by those representing the three defendants, but, notwithstanding those submissions, I do not consider that it would be oppressive or unjust to seek a further retrial.

"I have separately considered whether to seek a retrial against Umar Islam on the count specifying knowledge of the target as aircraft. In light of the jury's verdict that he is guilty of conspiracy to murder I have concluded that the public interest does not require me to seek a retrial in his case

"In light of these decisions, it would be inappropriate for me to say anything further at this point."


  1. Media enquiries by email : CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7796 8180, Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  2. The trial of eight men in the "aircraft bomb" plot ended on 7 September 2009. See CPS Press Release about aircraft bomb plot.
  3. Sentencing of those convicted is due to take place on 14 September 2009 at Woolwich Crown Court.
  4. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority 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
    • Presenting cases at court
  5. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 14 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Organised Crime, Special Crime, Counter-Terrorism and the Fraud Prosecution Service. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,250 people and prosecuted 1,032,598 cases with an overall conviction rate of 86.6% in 2008-2009. Further information can be found on our website.

    More about the CPS

  6. 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.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol