Lack of evidence is the most common reason for decisions not to prosecute. If there is not enough evidence for the court to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty, the prosecution will not succeed. It is not enough that the court may believe the victim’s story. It has to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a small number of cases, even though the evidence may be strong, the DPP may decide not to prosecute for other reasons. For example:
- where the offender is under 18 years of age and the case could be dealt with under the Juvenile Diversion Programme;
- where an adult is cautioned under the Adult Caution Scheme for minor offences rather than prosecuted; or
- where, in the public interest, it is better not to prosecute, for example if the offender is seriously ill.
Our publication Guidelines for Prosecutors has more detail about how the DPP makes a decision to prosecute. You may request a copy of this publication by contacting our Office, or click on this link >> Guidelines for Prosecutors to view the publication on this website