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Defendants’ Health (Prosecutions)

Volume 504: debated on Thursday 21 January 2010

13. What consideration the Crown Prosecution Service gives to the physical and mental health of defendants in making decisions to prosecute. (312118)

The evidence that a defendant has a significant physical or mental illness may mean that the Crown Prosecution Service decides that the public interest does not always require a prosecution. However, the defendant’s health must be balanced with the seriousness of the offence and the need to safeguard the public.

Is the Solicitor-General willing to see me about a case in which the charge has just been dropped at the second review by the CPS? It relates to a constituent of mine, whose son, a member of our staff, has worked for us in this building. It was clearly inappropriate, for a domestic matter that occurred at home, with no support from the victim—another member of the family—and where the evidence was clear from the beginning, to prosecute a seriously mentally ill individual.

I know the case to which the hon. Gentleman refers, because we looked into why the hon. Gentleman was asking the question. Of course I shall meet him, and it is better if we talk about it privately, as it were, because it is a family matter. However, my general understanding is that there was a mental health issue, and that the CPS received information early that the condition could be controlled, but had not been at the time. That raised the question of whether, if the man in question again did not take his medication, there would be a further threat to someone else. Later medical evidence has, I think, helped to put the matter to rest, but I am certainly very happy to discuss the case with the hon. Gentleman. I hope that nothing that I have said here upsets the family further. There are clearly issues to discuss.