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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 decision over Newquay hotel fire


There is insufficient evidence to charge anyone over a fire at the Penhallow Hotel, Newquay, in which three people died, the Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Casework Unit in the South West has decided.

The head of the Complex Casework Unit, Ann Reddrop said: "In the early days of the investigation into the cause of the hotel fire in August 2007, Devon and Cornwall Police contacted the Crown Prosecution Service for legal guidance. That guidance, and close liaison, has continued throughout the course of the investigation.

"This investigation has been a complex and detailed one and I have taken advice from leading counsel concerning four individuals who have been on police bail awaiting a decision from the CPS.

"After looking at all the evidence and considering Mr Edmunds' advice, I have decided there is insufficient evidence to charge any person with an offence relating either to the fire or the tragic deaths of three people who were staying in the hotel at the time.

"The effect of the decision means that the four people have all been released from police bail. However, it has been made clear to them and their legal representatives that the matter will be re-considered by the CPS should any fresh evidence come to light in the future.

"This remains an unsolved murder investigation and the Complex Casework Unit South West will continue to provide legal guidance to Devon and Cornwall Police as and when requested."

  1. The CPS Complex Casework Unit for the South West is based in Bristol. It deals with sensitive and complex cases from Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, and Gloucestershire CPS Areas.
  2. The fire at the Penhallow Hotel, Newquay, was on 18 August 2007.
  3. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8079.
  4. The Crown Prosecution Service is the 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

    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 85.1% in 2007-2008.

    More about the CPS

    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