Assisted suicide law change call
Published on 04 January 2012 11:30 AM
A former Metropolitan Police commissioner has called for the law on assisted dying to be changed ahead of a key report on the issue.
Lord Blair said the law is 'incoherent and unsafe' and is 'failing both those whom it seeks to protect and those tasked with enforcing it' in its current state.
His comments come as the Commission on Assisted Dying gets set to publish its recommendations on Thursday. The commission, chaired by Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, is expected to suggest that the law be changed.
Lord Blair said that in its current state, the law meant that people who help a loved one end their life can only hope that director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer will 'respond passionately' and not prosecute them, 'trading off their respect for a loved one's dignity against the fear of prison'.
Since Mr Starmer introduced new guidelines on assisted suicide in February 2010, 31 suspected cases have been referred but no charges have been brought.
In an article for the Independent on Sunday, Lord Blair wrote: 'This snapshot of evidence received by the commission on the legal and psychological challenges facing those already in distressing circumstances describes a system that is incoherent and unsafe.
'At a time when they should be grieving, under the current system relatives of loved ones are forced into a world of uncertainty that leaves the police and prosecutors torn between good practice and natural human sympathy.'
Copyright Press Association 2012