Policy on Giving Reasons for Decisions not to Prosecute in fatal cases

This policy relates to reasons for decisions not to prosecute in fatal cases only, and dates from 22 October 2008. The policy on giving reasons for decisions not to prosecute in all other cases came into force on 16 November 2015 and is set out in our booklet on How to Request Reasons and Reviews.

On 22 October 2008 the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions introduced a policy change on the giving of reasons for decisions not to prosecute.

The policy operates on the following basis:

  1. The policy is confined to alleged offences where a death has occurred including:
    • murder
    • manslaughter
    • infanticide
    • fatalities in the workplace
    • fatal road traffic accidents
  2. Reasons for decisions not to prosecute, or to discontinue a prosecution, are given on request to parties closely connected with the deceased, such as:
    • members of the deceased’s family or household;
    • their legal or medical advisers; or
    • social workers acting on their behalf
  3. Reasons are given only in circumstances where it is possible to do so without creating an injustice.  This would include situations where the giving of a reason would:
    • expose potential witnesses or other persons to injustice such as by taking their good name;
    • reveal the identity or existence of confidential sources or confidential methods or procedures of law enforcement; or
    • have an adverse effect on law enforcement.
  4. The reason given should where possible be sufficiently detailed to enable the interested party to understand why the decision was taken.
  5. The policy applies to decisions not to prosecute, or to discontinue a prosecution, made in respect of offences involving a death where the alleged offence occurred on or after 22 October 2008.
  6. Reasons for decisions are communicated to interested parties in writing.  It is not proposed within the scope of this pilot policy change to offer face-to-face meetings with interested parties.  Persons who come within the scope of paragraph 2 above and who want to know the reason for a decision not to prosecute or to discontinue a prosecution should write to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Infirmary Road, Dublin 7.
  7. It is important to note that this policy is in addition to, and leaves unaltered, the long-standing rights of victims and their families to:
    • request the DPP to review a prosecutorial decision
    • meet with the prosecution team before a trial
    • request the DPP to seek a review of an unduly lenient sentence 

More information