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New CPS guidance could see fewer prosecutions for 'mercy killing'

Assisted Suicide
13 January 2022
CPS

The Crown Prosecution Service intends to water down rules governing the prosecution of so-called 'mercy killing’ cases. A consultation on new draft guidance launches today and will run until April.

Current guidance says that, where there is enough evidence, "a prosecution is almost certainly required'".

According to reports, this could change to a preamble that states "it has never been the rule that a prosecution will automatically follow".

Speaking to the i paper, Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill said that in certain cases, sometimes “justice can be achieved by not prosecuting”.

Responding to the news, CARE's James Mildred warned that any relaxation in the rules places vulnerable citizens at risk.

He told The Telegraph: "Ensuring that every case of homicide and assisted suicide is treated with the utmost seriousness acts as a deterrent to abuse.

"CPS guidance already gives prosecutors discretion in cases of ‘mercy killing’. Any additional relaxation risks enabling those who would profit from exploiting vulnerable, suffering people.

"We are concerned the proposed changes outlined this week could be interpreted as a watering down of the existing guidance and will carefully scrutinise them via the draft consultation."

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