Attorney-General written question – answered on 3rd June 2010.

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Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee

To ask the Attorney-General how many cases of suspected assisted suicide have been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and how many of these cases proceeded to court.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve The Attorney-General

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) keeps central records of the numbers of charged offences reaching a first hearing in magistrates courts under section 2(1) Suicide Act 1961, that is, cases of assisted suicide. Table 1 outlines the numbers recorded over the last three years:

Table 1: Charged offences reaching a first hearing in the magistrates courts
Number of cases
2007-08 4
2003-09 2
2009-10 2

Cases of assisted suicide have been required to be referred to CPS headquarters only since December 2008 and more detailed records are only available since then. Based both on that information and other records covering the years 2008-09 and 2009-10, the numbers of cases referred to the CPS in which a decision not to prosecute has been made over the last three years are outlined in Table 2:

Table 2: Cases of suspected assisted suicide sent to the CPS
Number of cases
2007-08 Not available
2008-09 3
2009-10 8

These cases may include those in which it was decided that the two-stage Full Code Test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors was not met, and those which resulted in a different charged offence, for example, murder or manslaughter. These data may not be exhaustive, and do not include those charged offences that reached a first hearing in the magistrates' courts outlined in Table 1.

In addition, there are currently a number of other cases of suspected assisted suicide in which the investigation and/or charging process is yet to be completed.

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