Why won't they charge?

I've mentioned the apparent lack of enthusiasm the police and CPS seem to have for charging people with crimes and as I sit here billing I am seeing yet more examples of it.

I won't go into detail, but one case I have is very simple and clear cut.  Ex-partners meet up to discuss sale of former home.  One of them gets upset and punches the other in the face several times causing minor injuries.  The suspect is obviously known to the complainant so no ID issues. 

Result: no further action.


  1. The answer is all too simple. The CPS won't charge unless its a dead cert. I don't much care what their official policies are, down at the volume end of the business cps London direct will only authorise were there is utterly and completely overwhelming evidence. Over the years police have been worn down by this and now our gatekeepers ( known as evidential review officers in the met) have the same mindset . So now we bin perfectly good jobs ourselves without even going near the cps . The sort of job like this one where a court should be allowed to decide. Ive got an opinion becausevI've been a London CID officer for years and years and years.

  2. You give far few details for a reasonable answer as to why this wasn't charged. There could be any number of explanations - one of the common ones being that the complainant refuses to support a prosecution.

    What about the account of the suspect in interview - presumably it was denied? Their version may have been just as plausible as that of the complainant and so it is nothing more sinister than there not being a realistic prospect of conviction because there was no way to choose between the two.

    Or perhaps they claimed self defence - potentially rendering visible injuries (if any) far less relevant.

    With respect, it is very easy to provide few details and then make imply criticisms based on those limited facts. The reality is that these things are rarely as simplistic as Met detective above suggests and you, as a defence lawyer, may well never see the information that was crucial in the decision not to charge.

  3. Anon2, without meaning to be rude, but I wonder if I could invite you to consider for a moment why I might be light on the details? I cannot disclose confidential client information and so I provide a brief outline that sets out the situation in a nutshell.

  4. I do of course understand that you can only provide brief details about any case. However, here you have asked the question "why won't they charge?", thereby implying that they should have done, but don't provide enough information to allow anyone to challenge that implication.

    So, also without wishing to be rude, if you are not in a position to provide any further information then it might be better not to ask the question in the first place. It's not really fair to take a swipe at the police and CPS and then say that you can't discuss the matter any more because of confidentiality.

  5. How about a private criminal prosecution? Obviously you'd end up doing the work for no fee. The CPS would take it over and probably discontinue it but it might make a point.

  6. Offence denied by suspect. No medical evidence or other evidence of injuries. No witnesses.
    Essentially one word against another.

    Does this pass the CPS full code test of realistic prospect of conviction?
    I don't thinks so, particularly if the account or previous of the victim can be held against them.

    Me - I'd charge, but that's why I'm a cop and not a lawyer ;-)

  7. It appears I have to point out what I had mistakenly thought to be obvious... the title of this blog post is rhetorical. It does not literally call for an answer to the question. I was rather hoping, along with similar posts on this topic, to raise awareness of the continual lack of charging that seems to pervade the prosecution ranks of the criminal justice system at the moment. If I did not make that clear then I am sorry.

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