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DPP's Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide

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DPP Keir Starmer issues a prosecution policy relating to cases of encouraging or assisting suicide

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In July 2009 the House of Lords in its judicial function (now the Supreme Court) instructed the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales (DPP) to prepare and publish a policy for dealing with cases of encouraging or assisting suicide contrary to Section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961.

Following a public consultation on a draft policy, in which some 5,000 responses were received, the DPP published his final policy today.

The text of that policy makes clear that encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person is a criminal offence and states that "nothing in this policy can be taken to amount to an assurance that a person will be immune from prosecution if he or she does an act that encourages or assists the suicide or the attempted suicide of another person".

Having explained the procedures by which cases of suspected encouragement to or assistance with suicide are investigated, the policy lists 16 aggravating circumstances which might indicate the need for a prosecution in the public interest and 6 mitigating circumstances which might indicate that a prosecution is unnecessary.  

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