New assisted dying policy in full

Read prosecutors’ new factors for and against prosecution in assisted dying cases here.

After a lengthy consultation exercise in which nearly 5,000 responses were received, the Crown Prosecution Service will now only carry out prosecutions against those who assist people’s suicide when the ‘public interest’ requirement is satisfied.

Deciding this has been met depends on the following factors:

Public interest factors tending in favour of prosecution

A prosecution is more likely to be required if:

1 – the victim was under 18 years of age

2 – the victim did not have the capacity to reach an informed decision to commit suicide

3 – the victim had not reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide

4 – the victim had not clearly and unequivocally communicated his or her decision to commit suicide to the suspect

5 – the victim did not seek the encouragement or assistance of the suspect personally or on his or her own initiative

6 – the suspect was not wholly motivated by compassion; for example, the suspect was motivated by the prospect that he or she or a person closely connected to him or her stood to gain in some way from the death of the victim

7 – the suspect pressured the victim to commit suicide

8 – the suspect did not take reasonable steps to ensure that any other person had not pressured the victim to commit suicide

9 – the suspect had a history of violence or abuse against the victim

10 – the victim was physically able to undertake the act that constituted the assistance him or herself

11 – the suspect was unknown to the victim and encouraged or assisted the victim to commit or attempt to commit suicide by providing specific information via, for example, a website or publication

12 – the suspect gave encouragement or assistance to more than one victim who were not known to each other

13 – the suspect was paid by the victim or those close to the victim for his or her encouragement or assistance

14 – the suspect was acting in his or her capacity as a medical doctor, nurse, other healthcare professional, a professional carer, or as a person in authority, such as a prison officer, and the victim was in his or her care

15 – the suspect was aware that the victim intended to commit suicide in a public place where it was reasonable to think that members of the public may be present

16 – the suspect was acting in his or her capacity as a person involved in the management or as an employee (whether for payment or not) of an organisation or group, a purpose of which is to provide a physical environment (whether for payment or not_ in which to allow another to commit suicide

Public interest factors tending against prosecution

A prosecution is less likely to be required if:

1 – the victim had reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide

2 – the suspect was motivated wholly by compassion

3 – the actions of the suspect, although sufficient to come within the definition of the offence, were of only minor encouragement or assistance

4 – the suspect had sought to dissuade the victim from taking the course of action which resulted in his or suicide

5 – the actions of the suspect may be characterised as reluctant encouragement or assistance in the face of a determined wish on the part of the victim to commit suicide

6 – the suspect reported the victim’s suicide to the police and fully assisted them in their enquiries into the circumstances of the suicide and his or her part in providing encouragement or assistance